A Classic Architectural Shed


By Trisha Croaker


Published: The Sun Herald, Domain. December 2, 2012

During the course of any residential project, architects are invited temporarily into the lives of others, often complete strangers, in an almost unprecedented way.

Clients offer up their aspirations, the state of their relationships, health, financial standing, aesthetics, and passions or peccadillos.

In return, they seek a confidence-holder, dream interpreter-realiser, crack designer, and more.

It's a relationship, not unlike a marriage, that requires mutual trust and respect, and in which you've got to have complete confidence you've picked "the one" before exchanging any "I do's".

Few architects are more trusted than Rob Brown of Casey Brown Architecture, who enjoys word of mouth referrals, a list of clients too well-known to mention, and clients who come back time and again.

One such couple approached Brown several years ago when planning a tree-change, having worked together to create the award-winning Mackerel Beach house, internationally published and admired.

Their brief was an interesting one. They wanted a simple house with high ceilings and verandahs, with no internal doors, and able to cope with the micro-climate on a lush, rolling 20-hectare farm in a valley up north.

They wanted to face north, overlook a picturesque dam, and possibly include a "dog run" to accommodate their pooch. Most common in the American deep south, "dog run houses" comprise two cabins separated by a covered breezeway. Designed to draw cooler air into both spaces, they provide a protected outdoor space benefiting animal and human occupants.

Brown's response was to design a house "all about tropical living".

"We wrapped a long, skinny north-facing house in a gentle organic curve, or boomerang, around the dam, and placed the dog run slightly off centre in the house's "elbow" or bend and running from the carport towards the water," Brown says. "We then elevated it on a metre-high platform to cope with the area's torrential downpours and large volumes of sheet water runoff, and wrapped it in glass to maximise views."

Entry is into the dog run, with the living area and master bedroom, bathroom and walk-in-robe placed in the west wing, and dining, kitchen, guest bedroom, pantry and study in the east wing. North-south running blade walls separate spaces, negating the need for internal doors, with circulation passageways running the length of both wings internally and verandahs externally.

Brown describes the house as a "classic architectural shed". And his clients? In a recent email, they talk of living "in such an open yet intimate relationship with our landscape here. Supremely protected, yet we move seamlessly in and out".

A sure sign of trust well placed, and dreams realised.