3 and 5 Attwood Close, Gordon. attwood-feature

3 and 5 Attwood Close, Gordon

3 and 5 Attwood Close, Gordon were designed and built by Ric Butt/Strine Homes in 1997. Both houses are solar passive and designed to address the cold winter climate of the Canberra region while at the same time maximising summer cooling. Both houses have floor to ceiling expanses of glass to the north and curved roofs and ceilings. The house at number 5 is a prototype of Strine’s later Millenium system of construction, seen in the house at 39 Finniss Crescent, Narrabundah.

The houses are an example of the late twentieth century organic style of architecture:

  • energy efficient
  • curved roofs
  • architectural forms echoing the contours of the adjacent hills
  • colours reflecting those found in nature

3 Attwood Close

3 Attwood Close is a large 3 bedroom, open design of 227 square metres, with verandah, walkways and garage adding another 63.6 square metres.

The design of the house is an exploration of the challenge associated with standard brick veneer houses (which have no thermal mass on the inside) using the CSIRO’s idea from the 1950s of a reverse brick veneer construction, which places cladding on the exterior of the dwelling with the thermal mass on the inside of the house.

Plan of 3 Attwood Close, Gordon.

Plan of 3 Attwood Close, Gordon.

The concept is one of linked pavilions that separate workand home life: the master bedroom is separated by a walkway from the main living area including guest rooms and spa, which in turn are separated by a walkway from the office and garage.

The design specifically integrates the landscape and living space via a system of glass enclosed walkways, verandahs and courtyards. Streams that run underneath the covered walkways create a peaceful and welcoming environment.

Construction of the house is reverse brick veneer with corrugated iron cladding on the outside, with full glazing to the north capturing the winter sun. Insulated slab, walls and ceiling provide thermal mass which ensures minimum heating and cooling requirements, with the curved roof and ceilings creating convection currents for maximum energy efficiency.

5 Attwood Close

5 Attwood Close is a smaller, 3 bedroom, open plan design of some 152.6 square metres, with verandah, garage and storage areas occupying a further 56 square metres. The living, kitchen/dining, family and main bedrooms all face north, while the two secondary bedrooms and the study are located on the south side of the house. Full glazing to the north utilises the winter sun and high, curved ceilings create currents which shift warm air from the north side of the house to the south. Insulated slab, walls and ceiling combine with the internal thermal mass to create maximum heating and cooling efficiency.

Plan of 5 Attwood Close, Gordon.

Plan of 5 Attwood Close, Gordon.

An open plan and passageway allows effective cross ventilation, particularly in summer. The liberal use of doors and windows link indoor living spaces to the southern courtyard for summer and the northern paved space for winter outdoor living. The garage is also made part of the house, creating additional living and working space, including storage areas which eliminate superfluous external structures.

The high, curved ceilings and colours used inside the house echo forms and shapes found in nature and provoke an emotional response. Rich earthen terracotta and golden ochres balanced with cool, clear blue create a feeling of warmth and comfort.

Sources and further reading