Farm House - Doug Pearson Photography | ArchiPro

Farm House

On the crest of a hill overlooking the clients’ rolling farmland and undulating fields, this long, low-slung home was envisioned as a contemporary take on the traditional farmhouse.

The natural knoll on which this working farmhouse sits allows for a beautiful outlook over the clients’ land, and below across the valley and out to the Houto range in the distance, architect Jeff Brickell explains.

“The house is sited on the clients’ cattle farm, while a separate milking shed is located out of sight lower on the property. The aim of this design was to make the most of the uninterrupted rural outlook while utilizing passive solar design principles, which led to the main axis of the house running east to west.”

Combined with these aims was function. “Like any farm house, this is a home that also needed to be primarily about practicality; a place where the inhabitants would come in from working on the land so spaces needed to function appropriately.

“A key element of the traditional farmhouse is the verandah, and so that became a central part of the design of this modern take on the classic vernacular. We wanted to create a range of outdoor spaces that could be used effectively at different times of the day and year,” Jeff says.

What transpired was a simple rectangular form out of which a western, covered outdoor room was carved. Along the northern facade a verandah is cut from the form, while a sheltered deck sits at the center of the building—an uncovered niche that elongates and separates the house into two distinct areas, public and private.

As the house extends from the western living area to the eastern end, the ceilings lower by 1.4 meters, ending up at a 2.4 meter stud in the rear bedrooms. “This was a feature requested by the clients designed to lower the cost of heating and reduce the overall energy consumption of the house.”

Heated by a wood burner, in conjunction with a custom-designed heat transfer system, the house takes little from its surrounds. The east-to-west orientation allows for maximum solar gain, while the covered verandah eaves ensure the winter sun is captured and in summer the interiors are shielded from unwanted heat.

Cross and stack, natural ventilation ensures airflow is maintained throughout the entire axis of the house, while double glazing coupled with 140mm framing allows for extra insulation to ensure the home retains an ambient temperature year round and ultimately reduces the need for reliance on mechanical heating.

“To sit well in this landscape, the house had to be simple and strong. The roof and southern elevation are clad in the same material, a profiled metal. In contrast, the northern facade is defined by vertical cedar to give warmth and tactility to the spaces that are the most interacted with. By using a shiplap profile that gives the appearance of board and batten in a random width and depth profile, a nice layering of textural elements is introduced.”

Inside, the sarked cedar ceiling continues the exterior theme, while American oak floors and a light, neutral palette create a relaxed aesthetic sympathetic to the rural environs that stretch out in every direction.

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