Australia — Australia’s Sanctuary Magazine continues to be the most interesting shelter mag on my coffee table, and Australian architects continue to do some of the most interesting projects anywhere. They have also been forced to respond to problems like drought and spreading bushfires that, not withstanding the opinions of their Prime Minister, are probably the result of climate change and are harbingers of what we will probably see more of in North America.
The Supashak, designed by Brent Dowsett of C4 Architects, is a great example of this. It’s a prototype of a modular house that can be built in a variety of climate conditions; It’s “designed, engineered and built in-factory for the specific purpose of being able to transport across Australia.” It is also fire-resistant.
Ever since the devastating Black Saturday fires of 2009, which killed 173 people and destroyed 2000 homes, designs of homes have had to meet Bushfire Attack Level ratings depending on the expected heat they might have to resist in a fire, measured in Kilowatts per square meter and based on the type and proximity of vegetation. The Supashak as shown here meets BAL 29, but can be upgraded so that it can meet the toughest, BAL-FZ where the heat can be as high as 100 kW/m2.
In Sanctuary’s limited online coverage, Jacinta Cleary describes how the house is designed from the ground up to meet the standard.
While the broad, angled roof gives the house its sky views and winter sun access, its slant also provides some protection from bushfires. It sits low on the northwest, the likely direction of a bushfire, with a large screen offering further protection on that side. The roof is extended for better rainwater catchment, with 20,000 litres of the 60,000 litre capacity set aside for firefighting.
The structure is all steel and glass, and even the floors are made of non-combustible fibre cement panels. I wonder how long it will be before North American homes have to meet such a standard, or if they will do it so elegantly.