The Harvey Farm House

Status: in progress

The Harvey Farm House was designed for a couple wanting relocate to the Harvey area and build a basic farmhouse to suit their vision for their future and retirement. The house was to be first and foremost functional and suited to their farm lifestyle, while having a different and more developed aesthetic from the sheds and typical farm houses of the area. Designed to suit their unique needs, the house has two bedrooms, with the second bedroom to be used mostly as an office as they run their business from home. The floorplan is small, but each space was designed thoughtfully to maximise the storage within the house, including built in cabinetwork.

The house runs from east to west, to maximise the northern light and to capitalise on the views to the north and south. To the north will be an orchard, a vegetable garden, and a dam. To the south will be paddocks for horses. There are verandahs that run along both the north and south facades of the house that create places to enjoy the views.

What were the clients main driving priorities for this house?
Sustainability was a key concern for our clients, this was considered in each aspect of the design from the very beginning starting with the very important choice of the right orientation for the project.

Another high priority for our clients was that the home was practical for their lifestyle. This meant that the layout had to suit their farming life, for instance the main entry is located on the south verandah, where there is access to the laundry which allows the laundry to function almost as a mud room to take off dirty boots and clothes before going into the main house. However there is also a formal entry to the house for guests.

A significant consideration for our clients was also designing specific spaces for personal items that they greatly valued. Our client had a model Porsche collection that had been sitting in storage for years. We made sure to design a space by the entry nook for a display cabinet for the car collection. Creating meaningful spaces where our clients could store and display their valued personal items was important in the design of the house, in creating a home that was uniquely theirs and celebrated who they are and their specific interests.

What sort of lifestyle did these clients want to live?
Our clients lifestyle is a very outdoors focused daily life, typical of the farming life. A significant amount of time will be spent at home, out in the natural environment and working on their property. Located rurally, the amount of guests they have will be limited. To keep them company, they have two Great Danes, for which of course we had to make sure there was a space in the house for their beds! One of our clients also has a passion for cooking, so there is a lot of focus on the interior design for the kitchen to ensure that it caters to all the needs of a cooking enthusiast.

What was the biggest challenge or compromise that had to be made?
For our clients, the biggest compromise that had to be made was in the size of the home that suited their budget. As they were spending a lot of money on other infrastructure on their property, they had to reduce the budget for their home, and with this the size of the home had to be reduced. To deal with this challenge, we had to have conversations to find out what our clients actually needed to live their basic everyday life, and to see what was really important to them. We worked hard to make sure that every space we designed worked well and had a purpose, and within this, tried to incorporate as much storage as possible. By taking this approach, it meant that the clients were able to achieve both their home and all the other necessary infrastructure for their farm.

What is the clients’ and your favourite feature of this home?
The clients loved the verandahs; they wanted to be able to sit outside and enjoy the natural environment and views, and also have a connection from the rooms to the outside.

My favourite aspect of the home is the feature gable running through the middle of the house. Because the clients are going to have many sheds on the property, the gable provides a connection to the more industrial and agricultural built forms but translates this to the residential with a bit more finesse.

Can you give us a rundown of the sustainable features of this home?
Firstly the orientation of the house is the most efficient, running lengthwise east to west, with the biggest aspect to the north. The house will also have double glazing. There are verandahs that run the full length of the north and south facades, providing an awning that protects the glazing from the sun. The gable creates high ceilings in the main living space, which will have ceiling fans that will push the warm air back down to the room in winter, and high level windows that allow for the purging of hot air in the summer.

As the house is so remote, it will have no connection to any mains and will be completely off the grid. Being self sufficient means they will have multiple large rainwater tanks collecting runoff from the sheds around the property and the house. With large roof areas across the property, there is ample space for solar PV systems to provide the electricity for the house.

Due to the location of the house, we are using ‘Off-Site’, a prefab manufacturer. They will make the timber frames of the house in the factory, and bring them out to the site to be erected. The wall frames will be basically complete with cladding, insulation, and windows all in place when they are delivered. The floor and roof structures will likewise be cassette designs completed with insulation, cladding and structural floor elements. This process is very efficient, reducing material wastage in the factory, and has very efficient construction times. It will allow lock up to be achieved in days rather than months.