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. 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 relationship to the landscape is one of dependence rather than romance. The primary sustainable features: 8kW solar voltaic system, in-slab hydronic heating and cooling system, on-site waste treatment and 107,000-litre rainwater tank. Passive features include thermally massive construction, reusable concrete formwork, double glazing with high light visual transmittance, a low air infiltration building envelope and a heat recovery ventilated system. The material language marries the practical rural aesthetic of profiled metal, steel structure and simple, direct detailing, with smart, sustainable materials that have been used in a way that expresses the story of sustainability.

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