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Sanctuary magazine issue 14 - Reborn from fire - Callignee, VIC green home profile

Sanctuary magazine issue 14 - Reborn from fire - Callignee, VIC green home profile

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Published by Sanctuary Magazine
Rebuilding after the devastating Victorian 2009 bushfires, Chris Clarke created a smaller, greener home - an extraordinary home born from its impassioned history. Green home profile from www.sanctuarymagazine.org.au, Australia's only magazine dedicated to sustainable house design.
Rebuilding after the devastating Victorian 2009 bushfires, Chris Clarke created a smaller, greener home - an extraordinary home born from its impassioned history. Green home profile from www.sanctuarymagazine.org.au, Australia's only magazine dedicated to sustainable house design.

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Published by: Sanctuary Magazine on Feb 24, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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SANCTUARY10hoUSe pRofileRegioNAl viCToRiASANCTUARY11hoUSe pRofileRegioNAl viCToRiA
SS Sg
i S
round 130 tonnes of rockfrom the local quarry wereused n the landscapn ofthe home to provde analternatve to tmber decks(whch can be burnt).
RebUildiNg AfTeR The devASTATiNg viCToRiAN2009 bUShfiReS, ChRiS ClARke CReATed ASmAlleR, gReeNeR home – AN exTRAoRdiNARYhome boRN fRom iTS impASSioNed hiSToRY
SANCTUARY12hoUSe pRofileRegioNAl viCToRiASANCTUARY13hoUSe pRofileRegioNAl viCToRiA
It’s an old clIché to descrIbe lIfe regenerated out of
shattered dreams as a “phoenix rising from ashes”. Yet for Chris Clarkethe phrase has a starkly literal meaning. From the remains of twistedmetal, glass and concrete that was once his home has come an inspiringsymbol of regrowth after the devastation of bushfire.Chris, a designer and builder, had stewed for 10 years on the conceptfor his original house, carefully choosing a five-acre site in Callignee in Victoria’s east that to him was “heaven”. It was an untouched elevatedplot amid eucalypts in a quiet valley. The idea was for a striking,three-bedroom house of mainly timber and glass that payed homage toits idyllic surrounds. It took two years to build. Six days after it wasfinished in February 2009, the Black Saturday bushfires swept throughthe area, leaving the home a mess of rubble.Thankfully he was not there. All that was left of Callignee 1, which is what he now calls this original home, was a brick wall, concrete slab, steelframe, some panes of glass and a jumble of timber, concrete and steel. Yetsomehow the wreck inspired Chris to rebuild with new vigour. “The steelframe stood there in its glory. It just stood there in that strength, and I wanted to work with that,” he says.As well as the pressing need to construct a fire-proof home in an areaof extreme risk, Chris was determined to make sustainability andnon-toxicity key drivers in the design of this new home. After ninemonths of building and an expenditure of $450,000 the result isCallignee 2, a dramatic and highly conceptual statement in weathered,rusty hues that blends with the resilient and regrowing landscape. Itscompelling story made it the first house profiled in
Grand Designs Australia
on the Lifestyle Channel.Callignee 2 is a two-storey construction, but a scaled-down version of the original with only one main bedroom. Its bronzed look is the result of Cor-Ten weathering steel which clads the house inside and out. Locally quarried rocks, grass trees and black bamboo line the path to the frontdoor. Unusually, the front door opens into the master bedroom butseparated by a Japanese screen. The old office became the new bedroom.There is an ensuite with stone basin and shower surrounded with glass,including louvres to let steam out.The passage leads to a large kitchen space (“the heart of the house”,as Chris describes it) with concrete and steel island bench, dining areaand window opening out to a lap pool. At the end of the kitchen there is afree-standing fireplace. Polished, hydronically heated concrete floorslead down to a living area framed by a large glass panel that forms oneside of the pool. Timber stairs lead to a loft bedroom on see-throughmesh floor and north-facing study with Sisal carpet. Much of the roof space is devoted to gardens of grass trees and native grasses.Chris has tried to keep the embodied energy of Callignee 2 low,re-using and recycling as much from the first house as he could. Thekitchen bench and stairs, two of the features from Callignee 1, still bearthe marks of the searing fire. Double-glazed glass panels from theoriginal home are reborn in the new. Reinforcing the home’s image of durability, cast-off eucalypt hardwood from Melbourne’s Princes Pierforms the ceiling of the master bedroom, the dining table, bathroom vanity unit and some of the flooring.One of the novel aspects of Callignee 2 is the abandonment of many of the most conventional aspects of modern homes. There is no trace of plasterboard, no architraves or skirting, and no tiles. “I wanted smooth,
Callnee 1 was reduced tolttle more than rubble.Photo by Chrs Clarke
aken shortly after the resof February 2009. Photo byChrs Clarke
he concrete slab and theconcrete and steel ktchenbench survved the nfernothat destroyed the ornalhome, Callnee 1. hemperfectons, brouht on bythe heat of the re, wereembraced durn thereburnshn and repolshnprocess, lendn the home tsunque aesthetc. Cooknapplances n the home arerun by as, the only fossl fuelused n the home.
 As well as the pressing needto construct a fire-proof homein an area of extreme risk,Chris was determined to makesustainability and non-toxicity key drivers in the design of thisnew home.
clean lines,” Chris says. But perhaps the mostimportant absentees are the ones that makemany houses toxic – no VOCs (volatile organiccompounds) were used in the joinery, and thehouse is free of paint.Chris had suffered chronic fatigue for six years, a condition brought on by travelling inremote South America and not helped by ahectic, corporate-driven lifestyle. Non-toxicity  became a pillar of his recovery process afterspending time at a health centre in Mexico.Sean Hamilton, a designer whocollaborated on the project, describes it as a“very special home”. Sean says it wasprofoundly important for Chris’s healingprocess to rebuild: “The home has a bushcasual ambiance, comfortable in its new skin– a skin with soul and a very real heritage now.”Concrete water tanks on site have acapacity of 80,000 litres. In further keeping with the philosophy of sustainability, the wastefrom the house goes into a blackwater systemsunk into the earth.Remarkably after the destruction of BlackSaturday, Chris has no fear about future bushfires. The house’s frame is covered withFirefly, a fire-proof material designed to withstand extreme conditions. He is confidentCallignee 2 will not suffer the fate of itspredecessor, despite the home being in FlameZone (BAL-FZ), the highest category on the Victorian Bushfire Attack Level of risk.“There’s nothing here to burn,” he says,referring to the prominence of Cor-Ten steeland glass.[Ed note, as noted this house falls into theBAL-FZ category, the highest bushfire attacklevel under the Australian Standard for building in bushfire-prone areas. If you arelooking to build on a rural property your homemust be assessed to find out its BAL ratingand you must ensure the materials andconstruction methods used meet the BAL levelof your site. Contact your local council andthe Building Commission
formore information.]
It was profoundly importantfor Chris’s healing process torebuild: “The home has a bushcasual ambiance, comfortablein its new skin – a skin with souland a very real heritage now.”
hs bathroom s a radcaldeparture from standardhomes wthout any tlnwhatsoever.  concrete slaboor and Prnces Perreclamed tmbers are usedfor the vanty and wall panels.
he stars from the ornalhome survved thedevastatn res of February2009, wth only the bottomand top treads neednreplacement.
he mezzanne bedroom andstudy wth Ssal oorn andPrnces Per brushbox tmbersthrouhout. Chrs wanted tokeep the house “free andopen” so the upstarsbedroom s open plan wthmetal rate oorn to seethrouh to the room below.internal blnds shade thenorthern lazn over thestudy.
Chrs opted for a mneralswmmn pool over salt orchlornaton. Water from thepool can be used on thearden and the manesumand potassum are sad tohelp reduce stress, aches andpans.

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Debs Turner added this note
Just watching grand designs and this is just amazing whaqt an inspiration and an amazing home
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