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Australian Home Features Zinc Fireproofing

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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In 2006, prize-winning architect Glenn Murcutt was commissioned to design a house for a family with three children; now, the house is up for sale, promising both privacy and unobstructed access to surrounding wilderness.

The wilderness, however, is just outside of Sydney, in a high-risk brush fire area—Bushfire Attack Level Flame Zone, the highest risk level assigned by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.

Murcutt told Modern House that he accepted the challenge when he was approached by one of  his clients, a couple who had three children and were living in London, to design them a vacation home in Australia.

“They invited me to design a house for their growing family of two daughters and a son, initially for use during weekends and holidays but later to become their main residence,” Murcutt said.

The Donaldson House

Completed in September of 2016, the Donaldson House contains four bedrooms, two bathrooms and is integrated almost seamlessly with its surroundings via a nearby sandstone outcropping that hides the home from the street.

The site spans 2,345 square feet, surrounded by native bushland, trees, and sandstone, and the house was built so that its residents could enjoy the outdoors as well as be sheltered from it.

A number of factors had to be taken into consideration in its design: the use of low-maintenance materials, adherence to strict fireproofing regulations, energy efficiency and renewable energy where possible.

Throughout the home, strengthened glass, black weathered zinc and a steel roof work in collaboration to act as protection against the potentially harsh climate.

In terms of energy efficiency, overhangs and certain operable windows do double duty by providing shade and cross ventilation that render air conditioning unnecessary. The use of solar panels on the roof also lends itself to the renewable energy aspect, which serves to meet the Donaldson House’s electrical demands. Grey water is also recycled via a water collection system.

The internal and external flooring of the home is comprised of reinforced concrete and finished with light grey and sealed sandstone. Top floor ceilings use native hoop pine, and interior walls are finished satin white or use white bagged brickwork, with glazed tiles used in areas that are susceptible to getting damp.

According to Modern Home, the esign incorporates a concrete foundation, with the lowest concrete floors insulated with R1 rigid thermal insulation between the structural and topping slabs. The home’s exterior is also completely clad in black weathered zinc, as, according to the Brushfire regulation, no wood can be exposed on the building’s exterior.

The outside walls are steel stud framed, including individual layers of Kooltherm R2 and Kooltherm R1. Lined with 16-milimeter-thick waterproof plywood, the exterior continues the trend of zinc with a finish of black weathered interlocking zinc sheeting.

In keeping with the look of the exterior sheeting, the windows themselves are sealed steel-anodized black aluminum. Each window features glass with a fire screen mesh made of non-corrosive metal, along with a fire shutter. The 20-milimeter space found in the frame is filled with calcium silicate, which acts as a heat insulator.

The design of the roof implements hollow steel section rafters set at 600-millimeter increments, with 25-millimeter waterproof plywood sheets and a lining of Enkavent and Grace Ice & Water Shield. Zinc protection also extends to the top of the house, resulting in a standing-seam, natural color sheet.

The home is currently on the market, being sold by Modern House Real Estate Agents.


Tagged categories: Color + Design; Design build; Zinc

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