A Family's Off-Grid House That Channels Churches In Its Jaw-Dropping Design

The owners behind this jaw-dropping home in regional Victoria bought the property when it was just empty farmlands, in hopes of building a retreat that could be somewhere special for their extended family to come together.

Three years after engaging Melbourne firm Archier, Off Grid House was complete.

Drawing inspiration from the epic scale of churches as an example of a traditional meeting place, the home features sweeping gables made from Australian hardwood and perfectly framed country views, to create an escape that’s as sustainable as it is spectacular!

Christina Karras

Off Grid House is a newly-built home designed by Archier.

The off-grid home was designed to celebrate the landscape and nurture family.

The property serves as holiday home for the clients and their extended family.

Traditionally, families from this area gathered at the church, so the structure relates to the volumes of a civic meeting place.

Gables on each side ensure views from the house capture the full aspect of the landscape.

Old meets new in the warm kitchen interiors.

Views from the house capture the the creek at the bottom of the valley through to the ridge line of the surrounding mountains.

A fireplace subtly divides the expansive living room domain.

The downstairs bedrooms support the functions of the immediate family.

The project was a close collaboration with the builder, Bushblend Homes, and the clients.

The large vertical expanse of the gables creates an open connection between the upstairs rumpus room and the downstairs living area.

A bath is positioned by a large window to create an intimate space to contemplate the landscape.

The bunk area connected to the rumpus serves as a quasi-public sleeping area – supporting the requirement for the house to sleep 12.

The project champions Australian hardwood.

Exposed rafters create a rich ornamentation, and textural use of timber achieves a rich aesthetic experience despite a restrained palette.

Glue-laminated timber — produced from the same species of trees found on the land — connects the internal with the external and enhances the dwelling’s overall efficiency.

The house was designed to operate off-grid as a more cost effective power solution.

Christina Karras
7th of July 2023

Bushblend Homes

Off Grid House by Archier is a celebration of family and the surrounding landscape.

The property was designed as a holiday house for clients who were familiar with this regional Victorian location, but had recently sold a farm that had been in their family for generations. So when a block of empty land in the same area came up for sale, they seized the opportunity to create somewhere new for their extended family to reconnect.

Archier design director Chris Gilbert says the practice looked to the environment for inspiration. Traditionally, families from this area gathered at the local churches, which influenced the home’s sweeping scale, in addition to the architectural gables.

‘We drove the concept with the church motif as a reference,’ Chris says. ‘The client loved gables, so we maximised them. They love how the pitch draws your eye up to the canopy of the trees.’

This striking element allowed them to capture views on each side of the home, including the creek at the bottom of the valley to the ridgeline of the surrounding mountains. The origami roofline also seeks to reflect the location’s rippling topography, creating spaces of epic proportions inside, with playful bunk beds nestled into the resulting voids upstairs — ensuring it had enough room to sleep 12 people.

Sustainability was another key focus of the project. Chris says it was an easy decision to design the home to operate off-grid, as it was more cost effective than running main power to the site.

‘The dwelling is fully electric, powered by a solar array connected to a 40KW battery,’ he adds.

The house was specially engineered and designed to use the smallest amount of Australian hardwood for the project, featuring glue-laminated timber that was sustainably produced from the same species of trees found on the land.

‘The timber structure brings us a lot of joy, it provides the space ornamentation, warmth and texture while preforming the critical task of holding the roof up,’ Chris says of the construction. ‘This building represents the best of us, restrained, calm, beautiful and timeless.’

Off Grid House is enhanced by personal touches created by the owners themselves, who hand-built the endearing ceramic basins, wall lights and kitchen tiles, and even worked on the external cladding. With plans to revive the gardens over time, they’ve already created something special to be enjoyed for generations to come.

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