Sustainable Homes

A Shed-Inspired Home, Designed To Age Gracefully

After 20-plus years living in the one humble house, the owners of this property in Bellbrae, Victoria, were in need of an improved home to better support their recent retirement. 

The clients’ brief to Wiesebrock Architecture was multifaceted, calling for sustainable design measures, and a flexible floor plan suitable for the couple and regular guests. 

The young architecture studio created two pavilions in response, comprising the primary house and a guest pavilion. This second pavilion provides ample room for additional bedrooms, as well as a quiet space for one of the owners, who’s currently completing a PHD in literature. Talk about retirement goals!

Amelia Barnes

This country home draws on the client and architect’s love of old farm sheds. Photo –  Ben Hosking

The warm interior features Victorian Ash flooring and radiata pine walls. Photo –  Ben Hosking

The fireplace is the primary heat source in the house’s main pavilion. Photo –  Ben Hosking

The use of overlapped plywood sheets on the roof minimised wastage and labour. Photo –  Ben Hosking

Overlapping plywood gives a perfectly rustic and textured finish. Photo –  Ben Hosking

The plywood sheets will age gracefully. Photo –  Ben Hosking

Durable, low-maintenance, corrugated and galvanised steel sheeting features on the exterior. Photo –  Ben Hosking

Wiesebrock Architecture designed the new house to feature a primary pavilion and guest pavilion, separated by an outdoor deck. Photos –  Ben Hosking

Gable roofs are oriented to allow for a concealed 6kW solar array. Photos –  Ben Hosking

The house belongs to a retired couple, one of whom is completing a PHD on the works of Emily Dickinson, while the other spends time riding and caring for her horses! Photos –  Ben Hosking

Amelia Barnes
15th of December 2020

This new house in Bellbrae, Victoria, (located just off the Great Ocean Road between Torquay and Anglesea) is Wiesebrock Architecture’s debut project, setting a high standard of what’s to come from this young studio!

The home replaces a rundown house lived in by the clients for almost 30 years. Having recently retired, they wanted an improved house that could better support their new stage in life, as well as regular visits from their now adult children.

A reworking of the existing house was initially proposed, but proved unsustainable. ‘We established quickly the existing house was beyond repair, and that a new build would be less expensive and a far better design outcome,’ says Richard Wiesebrock, director of Wiesebrock Architecture. 

When word of this imminent demolition got around Bellbrae, an old local came forward to express his relief, having built the property using some very questionable methods!

He professed they had no idea what they were doing,’ Richard says. ‘To source stumps for the house, they drove around the backroads at night and pulled out hardwood, roadside reflector posts. Probably not legal or up to code, but they lasted over 30 years!’

Wiesebrock Architecture designed the new house in the form of two pavilions for multiple reasons. Richard explains, ‘The primary pavilion is a comfortable one-bedroom home with everything they need. It’s easy to maintain, heat and clean.’ 

The second pavilion is used as a private guesthouse comprising two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchenette. When no guests are staying, this becomes a refuge for one of the owners, who is completing a PHD on the works of Emily Dickinson, while the other spends time riding and caring for her horses!

In between the two pavilions is a large outdoor deck covered with polycarbonate roofing. The couple use this area daily when reading the paper, but this can just as easily cater for larger events such as Christmas lunch, and even their son’s wedding!  

Aesthetically, the new house draws on the couple and architect’s love of old farm sheds. ‘We thought we’d take inspiration from our favourite aspects of them: their form, materiality and clustered siting of multiple sheds,’ says Richard.  

Durable, low-maintenance, corrugated and galvanised steel sheeting features on the exterior, while the warm interior references classic shearing sheds. ‘The interior is lined with plywood sheets designed to age gracefully, instead of [needing] repainting in the future,’ says Richard. ‘The sheets to the living area ceiling are overlapped to break up the monolithic surface and utilise full sheet widths, with no cuts required and no waste.’

Other sustainable features include the use of salvaged bricks where possible, and a 6 kilowatt solar array (including some panels reused from the existing house).

This project exemplifies the overall aim of Wiesebrock Architecture: to add value to clients’ lives through considered, functional and elevated design. 

‘I enjoy designing spaces that make life’s little moments better,’ says Richard. ‘The end result is a home the clients love, and a build that still makes me smile.’ 

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