What your Shed House aesthetic says about you. Vaughn and Louise talk about their experience designing, building, and the resourcefulness and health of living off-grid.
The Shed House Aesthetic
What does an off-grid Shed House look like? What does an Australian shed look like? Vaughn and Louise were inspired by Glenn Murcutt’s design aesthetic, as many architects are. They adopted a literal approach to a Shed House and contracted Jason to build their design to lock-up.
“...industrial and utilitarian, and as it is off-grid, it is a ‘working’ shed, a machine.”
Vaughn and Louise embraced passive solar design, where North orientation benefits heating and cooling. They have aligned their 30 metre long pavilion to the North, so sun floods the 4 metre wide concrete slab in Winter and shades the house to assist cooling in Summer.
Coming back to the notion of off-grid Shed House design, there is a narrative that Vaughn and Louise wanted to present in the aesthetic of the exterior and interior. It is a metaphor for respecting the workers of the land. A place of communal integration, a rural identifier and it is utilitarian and lightly built but strong. They wanted to sit in the landscape like an insignificant shed, although the design principles that were applied in form, scale, repetition, and material, benefit a unique design outcome that gets many road glances.
“It seems that simplicity does not go unnoticed.”
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Aesthetic to Resourcefulness
The fact that you can ‘see’ your capacities of utilities and resources, is paramount to applying an effective practice of efficiency in your daily usage of resources. This was a paradigm shift for Vaughn and Louise, which resulted in a new awareness. Seeing the ‘limits’ and ‘storage’ of power and water provides awareness for being resourceful with utilities and daily activities.
“We wash up the dishes in a shallow and sufficient amount of water, and leave for the next wash.”
They have calculated from their seasonal water usage that they use less than a quarter of the average daily water usage of a Brisbane household (see What Does The Data Say?). When people are not aware of their limits, it can be easy not to apply any, which is wonderful for the supplier.
Knowing that they are not placing a strain on the system, provider and environment is fulfilling in one’s outlook on life. They are setting up opportunities with the design of their own environment with a living machine to harvest and collect its own resources.
“The house is a machine working for us, it is not static and inefficient.”
There is an embedded simplicity in this approach when integrating the basics for sustainable living.
Resourcefulness To Health
With suburban areas being provided with water that contains fluoride and chlorine, pure rain water is a healthy opportunity to assist a healthy life. The taste of pure rainwater is not like bottled water, let alone tap water, but is a healthy and sustainable alternative.
“Your tea and coffee will taste different too.”
Even showering in pure rain water is different to city tap water, which is an experience to seek out.
Lessening chemicals in one’s life can assist with health benefits, and this extends to vegetable gardens. Here, ethical practices in gardening benefit the local native animals that have resided on the property for quite a few generations. Vaughn and Louise don’t spray chemicals on large weeds as the wallabies tend to eat them. Poisoning the soil can impact on the ground grubs, worms and insects that the Kookaburra family eat from, which would not be nice. Keeping the immediate environment healthy is important to them.