Portarlington: new XS FormFlow modular build
House Size: 118.5m²
Land Size: 2110m²
Project Type: New modular build
Open (Free Entry): 16 October 10am - 2pm
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Recycled timber warehouse specialising in the supply of recycled Australian Native Hardwoods.
About the house
We purchased the vacant block 6 years ago. It was a block to which many truckloads of ‘clean fill’ had been added to make it a saleable. It’s a weird, triangular shape block, with 2 x 6m easements and a steep slope so the building footprint is quite small. But the chance to live close to nature fronting on to a wetland and 50 ha Nature Reserve was irresistable.
By the time we purchased it the “clean fill-enhanced” slope adjoining the wetland was chock full of of noxious weeds - providing a great opportunity to start a process of regenerating using the indigenous plants, extending out the habitat for the birds and wildlife which live in the wetland.
Designing and building a house was an intensive process – but I’m delighted with the results. This is the first house I’ve lived in designed with consideration of sustainability and the natural elements. It’s so comfortable it’s a joy to live in! The north facing windows allow the sun to warm the house so at the end of a winter’s day with just a peak of sunshine the house is warm, and needs very little heating.
The house is designed as two physically disconnected living spaces.
The main house contains the kitchen/living area, main bedroom and bathroom. The “Guest Nest”, accommodation for friends & family, has a bedroom, sitting room and bathroom. The intention is for it to eventually be a self contained unit allowing guests their autonomy.
Moving from one space to the other provides opportunities for sensory connection with the natural world – the sights and sounds of frogs & birdlife on the wetland, fresh air, a moment to gaze at the stars. I wanted the house to sit comfortably with the surrounding nature, not to be a fortress from the external world.
A friend is currently living in ‘the guest nest’ for an extended stay while she builds her own house, and it works well for two adults. There’s enough space to not be in each other’s pockets and it’s easy to catch up.
Visitors are immediately relaxed by the sights and sounds of nature so close. They often sit down and gaze at the wetland and birdlife where there’s constant entertainment and drama.
Though the house is over-looked by other houses it feels peaceful & almost remote. The house was designed with respect to retaining the neighbour’s view lines while at the same time having privacy.
I’ve enjoyed contributing some personal touches – such as the kitchen tiles made with my ceramist friend, Danielle Boothroyd from Sandy Flat Farm over 3 fun weekends, and the red gum bench tops, milled from slabs cut from fallen timber on my family’s farm.
My grandparent’s mid century furniture, though 70 years old, looks like it was made for the house.
As a prefab house, if needed, I could unbolt the house, put it on the back of a truck and move it somewhere else. It’s a different way of thinking about housing and that aspect appeals to the gypsy in me.
- Three years of planning with Formflow
- Build started in September 2021 and finished and started moving in April 2022
Passive design (north facing aspects, north highlight windows)
- opening windows and low south opening windows for cross ventilation
- Light reflective external colours for solar reflectivity. This was important in the design process to ensure that the building fit in with the surrounds