It isn’t often that you open a shed door and happen upon an entire living, working, storage and making enterprise – all within an architect-designed microclimate. But enter the western edge of the Longhouse in Daylesford, and – once you have moved past tractors and farm machinery – you open out into what architect Timothy Hill describes as a ‘surprisingly lush haven.’
The project started when Ronnen Goren and Trace Streeter purchased a 20-acre parcel of land that overlooks Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and Mount Franklin. Despite the sweeping views and beauty of the site, the environment proved difficult to manage. Extreme weather variations, strong winds, lack of water and ravenous local wildlife (!) meant that the couple’s vision for a site of food, family, and design was placed under threat.
Ronnen approached friend of 30-years architect Timothy Hill, to find a way to make the hostile environment into a site that supported their ambitious plans. Keen for a challenge, Timothy designed a 110m long shed, with internalised agricultural, hospitality and residential functions all housed under one (incredibly long) roof.
The Longhouse places a contemporary spin on Palladian style architecture, where all functions are housed within a single symmetrical building. In this modern reimagining, visitors move past the tractors, and the building opens out to a central kitchen and cooking school, a reception area, planting beds, The Lodge (the owner’s residence) and The Stableman’s Quarters (guest house nestled in a mezzanine pod). Timothy explains that this historic model ‘emphasises how much – or how little – you need for a few people to survive and thrive. A handful of animals, enough water and year-round crops.’
In order for this protective sanctuary to work, Timothy transformed the elongated shed into a microclimate, that provides an environment that is ‘mellow and calming whatever the weather.’ The passive house design ensures thermal stability, below the translucent glass-reinforced polyester skin of the shed. Incredibly, the 1050sqm roof harvests rainwater, which allows the garden to grow, with ample left over for bushfire defence.
This giant greenhouse is designed as an unbelievably impressive engineering feat – and the interiors well-and-truly keep up their end of the deal! The materials are practical and robust, with resilient Australian Cypress Pine used for barn doors, walls, surfaces, planers, seating and decking. Timothy also designed the living zones according to colour theory – celeste (sky blue) for The Lodge and blush tones for The Stableman’s Quarters ‘so even in the depths of cold, grey winters – there is an uplifting sense of blue skies and long sunsets every day.’ Like permanently living in a James Turrell artwork!
This overview barely scratches the (100m long) surface of this all-encompassing property. We haven’t even covered the space-age orange grouted bathroom, slip glazed clay bricks, or the future plans to move off-grid with solar panelling and battery storage. But as Timothy explains, ‘the experience of the whole, is far greater than the sum of its parts.’ A whole world, under one roof.