Most aspects of sustainable house design are invisible. Orientation to north, location of thermal mass, and appropriate sun shading – these are the most obvious signs of a solar passive home, and all can be achieved in any architectural style you like … The key challenge for architects today is to establish a sustainable aesthetic.
Few have taken up this challenge more vigorously than PHOOEY Architects. Take the Stick House in Fitzroy North: a simple renovation and extension, the most straightforward of Victorian terrace alterations, conventional in its planning and inhabitation … The most remarkable aspect of this project is its visual quality, achieved through the selection and application of just one material – radial-sawn timber sticks.
The Stick House project is simple and unified. If it looks a bit like a primitive hut – more devolution than evolution … Going back to past, mining our own history and relearning things we have forgotten what constitutes a renaissance of low energy design. Instead of being a sublime machine, Le Corbusier’s old ‘machine for living’, the Stick House has a rustic, natural quality, like a half woven basket. It’s an increase in efficiency, ironically represented by an excess of material, and a billboard for sustainability.
Horrocks, T (2005), ‘Material Thinking’, Houses, Issue 58, pp 28-34.