VISION Issue 4 | Page 26

Vision Magazine 26 The Farnsworth House is that reminder of innovation and daring, yet it’s also a reminder that even though the architect had a very wealthy client, the emphasis was on invention and quality before quantity. There are no direct parallels between the Farnsworth and Piermont House but there are certain principles we’ve adopted. Technology gives us a huge advantage with regard to new and better materials. The glass that we have to work with now is vastly superior to what belonged to that era. It allows us to be bolder and more confident in dealing with climate, fully sealing the house and absorbing the landscape. Glazing is very important because your design is such a very active part of this envelope. The family wanted to feel part of the landscape. And they can do that without question because glass is integral to the design. That is especially true of the pavilion and even in the bedrooms where the views are smaller but still very important. 27 What influences your work? Those famous international modern masters and locals such as Glenn Murcutt. Early on I worked for Daryl Pelchen and he certainly alerted me to the importance of design clarity. Is there any significance in using local builders, trade skills and materials such as glazing? It was just very reassuring to be able to call on and deal with local people throughout this process. We needed people on the spot who could attend to the inevitable issues and questions that arise. Similarly we sourced local materials wherever possible and that really fitted with a more sustainable view of design that considered the life-cycle of embodied energy costs involved in bringing materials from the other side of the planet. What was the advantage in working with a supplier such as Viridian? We had close consultation with the local glazier who works with Viridian to establish the ideal balance of glass type, clarity and shading coefficients of our double glazing. There is a certain peace of mind without question of buying locally and it’s certainly true of glass that in the event difficulties occur you want to know there is full back-up. Have you had the alternative experience? We’ve specified one thing and then discovered something else has been substituted and that is a real danger. A cheap imported alternative often doesn’t work out to be very cheap and so we’re very aware of the product and what is used as the finished product. Thankfully our accommodating local builder was also aware of this. What other qualities does glass provide beyond views? Knowing that the fabric of the building can literally unveil very simply and elegantly is a key in this context. The pavilion could be almost entirely glass because it’s all so fully transparent. The whole structure is fully revealed and those qualities go beyond just providing terrific views. Did the clients have concerns about privacy or thermal/solar integrity? The site is private from the main road so privacy wasn’t an issue. Our ESD consultant thoroughly tested and confirmed the design to ensure we met ratings. The large eave overhang was calculated to avoid overheating and heat gain and hence the idea of opening the building. Was it a concern? A calculated concern perhaps but the client was adamant about a transparent box. It needed to be well heated and insulated and the family has already experienced a winter and summer to prove that it works very well. What are some of your primary sustainability strategies? Heavy insulation throughout including slab insulation, solar hot water, photovoltaic panels pre-wired throughout, 80,000 litre rainwater tanks with a 10,000 litre fire fighting tank, integrated landscaping and pergola for sun shading, hydronic slab heating throughout, large eaves and fixed shading devices to glass roofs and of course double glazed units with EnergyTech. Has there been a project high point? We visited the client about a month after moving in and to finally see the house really utilized, appreciated and enjoyed is very gratifying and such a huge reward. Credits Project Piermont House Glazier European Window Company Architect Rachcoff Vella Architecture Principal Glass Provider Viridian Builder G&S Morris Constructions Principal Glazing Viridian ThermoTech Double Glazed Units incorporating EnergyTechTM Structural Engineer Keith Patrick and Associates ESD Consultant/Energy Rater Wayne Floyd Through the Looking Glass Budget N/A