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godsend from so many perspectives. You only need toclean one flat surface and if it scuffs you can use bakingsoda or water and vinegar to clean it down. Tiles andgrout can require caustic cleaners.“The existing timber house was always highmaintenance and you can’t do anything about that, butthe rest of the house, such as the concrete, is low to nomaintenance. With concrete I also don’t have to worry about termites.”The house sits astride a hill. Raising it half a level sothat it sat above the ground on the high side eliminatedsome termite problems. The old timber house now sitsatop concrete walls, separated from them by a steelframe with a glass clerestory window that ties the timbercottage to its concrete base.On the low side of the slope the floor level of thehouse is dug into the ground half a level. Brian saysthat this, combined with the concrete, gives the housethermal mass. “Now we don’t need a heater in winter.The awning at the back allows the winter sun in, and when the sun is higher in summer and more vertical itexcludes it. In winter, the sun comes all the way to theinternal back wall. In summer it stays out.”The home’s aesthetics were also a majorconsideration for Brian, a designer as well as anarchitect, and a believer that a beautiful living space canimprove quality of life.“The composition of the house from an aestheticperspective was an issue as far as using concrete.Concrete is a cold material. The contemporary ‘minimalist’ design aesthetic requires the extensive useof white with concrete. But in south-east Queensland, if you get sun on white you need sunglasses!“White works in a European context where you aretrying to maximise the sun, but in Queensland I think weshould actually use dark colours to reduce the reflection,as well as add visual warmth.“You can see in this house that all colours are dark,and the house has soul. The concrete could have beenstark and cold, but because of the dark colours it actively complements the rest of the composition, along with thetimber used in the internal joinery.“With my own home I could experiment, as well asmonitor what works, what doesn’t, and from that comes what I would recommend for my clients.”As Brian says, he’s put his money where his mouth is.
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