Located in the small seaside village of Walkerville, the Jackie Winter Waters retreat designed by architect Imogen Pullar sits on a steep, bush-strewn hillside, overlooking South Gippsland’s spectacular coastline and the rolling surf of Waratah Bay. In an environment with a high bushfire risk, the building envelope needed to be fire resistant, with a robust exterior that is made playful by a colourful mural which peeks out above the treetops.
The Axon™ Cladding by James Hardie adheres to Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) requirements, up to BAL40, and also becomes the canvas for a hand-painted artwork. Entitled Deep Drift, this 3D mural offers an unexpected conversation starter that engages visitors’ curiosity at the front door. Symbolising the power and beauty of the natural environment, it is the work of local artists April Phillips, Beci Orpin, Carla McRae and David Booth.
The original design brief to Melbourne-based Imogen Pullar was for a sculptural home, built to BAL-40 fire rating, that references its patron, the creative agency Jacky Winter Group. It also needed to incorporate solar power, on-site wastewater management and water tanks. However, the steep site presented the architects with complex issues around managing erosion and site drainage, predicating a small, lightweight building that captures the magnificent views to Wilson’s Promontory National Park.
With an overall footprint of just 30 square metres, the home allows visitors to experience the beauty of the epic surroundings within a minimalist design that includes the essentials for cooking, bathing and resting. A large Corten-steel deck wraps the home, providing a functional platform for outdoor living with well-equipped dining and lounging areas, along with an outdoor shower and fire pit.
The interior includes a 14-square-metre mezzanine, and is adaptable to suit one person or a family with kids, with overlapping functions and comfortable built-in furniture. ‘We approached it much like a caravan design,’ says Imogen. ‘The house sits in a sleepy beachside village among 1960s fibro shacks with very straightforward detailing, so we replicated this local ethos. We kept the design robust, simple, and easy to fix and maintain – avoiding anything too fancy or bespoke.
‘Keeping the speed of construction and costs in mind, we selected locally made, off-the-shelf materials as much as possible. The grooved fibre-cement panels meant we could use standard detailing, making the exterior speedy to build. The fibre-cement Axon™ Cladding met all our practical criteria and also allowed us to create something unique and interesting as a canvas for the mural.’
After numerous cladding comparisons, Axon™ Cladding was chosen for its BAL-40 compliance, allowing the exterior of the building to be painted in ‘playful camouflage’, while its grooved profile reflects the beachside aesthetic and gives the material depth, highlights and shadows. ‘The James Hardie website features a matrix of products that suit different fire ratings,’ explains Imogen. ‘It also provided all the digital files we needed for proper detailing and building code compliance.’
At the Jackie Winter Waters retreat in coastal Victoria, Axon™ Cladding was chosen for its BAL-40 compliance, allowing the exterior to be painted in ‘playful camouflage’, while its grooved profile reflects the beachside aesthetic and adds depth, highlights and shadows.
Axon™ Cladding also meets the requirements of the corrosive coastal environment within the strict budget. ‘We researched metal and fibre-cement options at the outset,’ explains Imogen. ‘Metal battens were not suitable in the marine environment, so the whole building structure is timber. This is beneficial as there are minimal thermal bridges through the building envelope, and timber is a low-carbon material. We used timber battens behind Axon™ to provide a ventilation and drainage cavity behind the cladding and to allow the vapour-permeable wrap to breathe.’
Modular materials were needed to ensure ease of construction, minimal wastage and minimal cutting. ‘We wanted to use cost-effective, sustainable and reusable materials bolted together, rather than glued or welded, so the house can be disassembled at the end of its life,’ says Imogen. ‘The interior paints are all low-VOC and materials can be recycled or upcycled.’ Even with its modest footprint, the house doesn’t feel small. It has expansive views to the forest to the north and east over the sea. It has enabled a meditative place for visitors to experience the beauty of the environment – for artist residencies, family breaks and individual retreats, as well as a weekender rental.
The Jackie Winter Waters retreat sits on a steep, bush-strewn hillside above Waratah Bay. With the high bushfire risk, the building envelope needed to be fully fire-proofed with a robust exterior – a brief ably met by James Hardie’s Axon™ Cladding.
In the manufacture of Axon™ Cladding and other products from James Hardie, we have decreased our landfill waste through LEAN, and increased beneficial reuse of our manufacturing waste, and we no longer use coal burners in our process. The annual Sustainability Report provides all the data and activities of the business, as we work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the building industry.
Architect: Imogen Pullar
Builder: MVH Constructions
Deck built by: McNuttnDorff Landscapes
Photographer: Marnie Hawson