Located in the heart of a bull paddock sits an off-grid home inspired by the iconic Australia Akubra hat. This inspiration came about at the first meeting with the clients on their bull farm, about 50 minutes southeast of Tamworth.
The client had selected the site for their new home atop a sloping hill, amongst eucalypt, with land falling sharply away to a dry creek bed.
From this vantage point, the vistas appreciated from their new home; ‘Yella-rock’ to the south, ‘hanging-rock’ to the east, a unique vista north through the grove of native trees and a vista west. Essentially, a unique 360-degree view.
One of the key challenges for this project presented itself: how to create a low energy, thermally comfortable home celebrating the site’s views.
“The station manager was curiously watching on, wondering what this city-slicker architect was going to do, when I asked him for his Akubra hat. Placing it upside down, I started to explain the concept of the ‘upside-down Akubra house’, the idea being a single large-scale roof form, overhanging the house below,” says Alexander Symes Architect.
The roof would block out the summer sun yet allow the winter sun to warm the central thermal mass that would form the spine of the home. As well as catching rainwater to run the house, the functional home would simultaneously celebrate its varying views.
From day forward, the Upside-Down Akubra House was born, with a roof that is 2.5 times the size of the building footprint and a home that generates all of its own energy and water.
Living off-grid is not a new concept, yet necessary when in a remote location, which subsequently is affected by extreme weather conditions, considering the current drought. What makes this particular home unique, however, is how the technology has become the aesthetic of the home.
Celebrating the off-grid characteristics begins with the carport, which stands at 4.5m at the tallest point and covers an area of 80m2. It is a canopy of LG neon bi-facial photovoltaics, which means that the solar cells are visible from the underside of the canopy celebrating the technology that powers the whole house.
Through exposing the solar panels, the home’s eco-technologies are integrated into the design, boasting a low environmental impact power generation option and an efficient use of energy.