Steel Architecture

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Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture

Snowy Mountains House
James Stockwell Architect


Rugged – bleak – windswept – alpine: the Snowy Mountains is one extremity of Australia, favoured for skiing in winter and enjoyed as pristine wooded wilderness in summer. Generous sites overlooking Lake Eucumbene, with views towards the main range, have long been favoured for second homes.

James Stockwell’s commission – to create a robust, economical house for an extended family – carefully addresses climatic extremes, simple maintenance and sustainable objectives. It has its origins in simple alpine huts and basic ski lodges, but here delivered with a straightforward finesse. The fundamental concept of a Nissen hut is literally elevated to a new plane, with angular buttresses bracing (and strapping down) the building to a shaped concrete base. Construction and appearance are reduced to fundamentals: externally, off-form concrete, and corrugated and sheet galvanized steel; and internally, polished concrete floors, plywood-clad walls and ripple-iron ceilings in Colorbond. The curved vault defines the living space and the major views between splayed buttresses to the west, with basic yet attractive service areas and bedrooms along a spine to the east.

The house responds appropriately to the extreme factors of wind, snow and ground chill. Rainwater is collected and stored for household use and fire fighting, a very effective fuel stove warms the living room and provides both hot water and underfloor heating, and solar panels cleverly positioned in the external wall plane generate electricity. The house combines autonomy with reasonable construction cost, minimum maintenance and good longevity, achieving excellent sustainable credentials.

James Stockwell Architect

Structural consultant
John Carrick

Lindsay Wild

Patrick Bingham-Hall



Published online: 1 Nov 2009


Architecture Australia, November 2009

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