Up Side Down Akubra House

Alexander Symes Architect

The Up Side Down Akubra House is a self-sufficient, off-grid home located in country New South Wales (NSW). When viewed from afar, the house is defined by its large skillion roof that was inspired by the broad brim of an Akubra hat. The house is sustained by the sun and the rain that fall on the roof. It provides shelter and comfort from temperature extremes and it celebrates the unique landscape and vistas. In this way, the Up Side Down Akubra House is as much ‘of’ the landscape as it is ‘in’ the landscape.

Internally, the house responds to the dynamic panorama of the site. A compact service core is at its centre, and the living spaces are arranged around the perimeter. The kitchen and living spaces open generously towards Hanging Rock at the north east, culminating in a generous outdoor room. The bedrooms provide privacy and a space of refuge with carefully composed views over the surrounding paddocks.

The apparent simplicity of the building elements conceals the integrated systems that allow this house to generate 100 per cent of its energy and to capture and process all its water, while providing the clients with a comfortable home within the temperature extremes of Central NSW. The carport roof has 80 square metres of photovoltaics, generating electricity, providing shelter and communicating the sustainable ethos of the house within. The concrete floor and walls provide essential thermal mass to the house with the roof regulating solar ingress according to the season. The immense gutter positioned at the junction of the house and the carport channels the roof water to a 107,000-litre underground tank.

In the age of climate change, the typology of the Australian country farmhouse occupies contested ground. The bucolic landscape is now parched, dusty and perhaps even burned, and the farmhouse is a symbol of an uncomfortable and impermanent occupation. The Up Side Down Akubra House seeks to do things differently and form an empathetic and nurturing relationship to the big landscapes around the Northern-Central district of NSW.

Finishes: Zego Reform, Pyrolave, Colourbond, Eco Outdoor, Viridian. Fittings & Fixtures: LG NeON, Chazelles, Eziform, Proclima, Stormtech, Big Ass Fans, Brink, Velux, Ozzi Kleen.

Photography: Barton Taylor