The Marika-Alderton House, which is designed by a British-born Australian architect named Glenn Murcutt, is located in Yirrkala on land related to the Marika clan, and designed for the aboriginal leader Banduk Marika and her partner Mark Alderton. It is a rare chance to design a house in the extreme northern part of Australia and to architecturally dispose the inherent and complex condition of climate and culture. Facing the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria, the site has a monsoonal tropical climate with cyclonic conditions. Consequently, the duration of summer is hot and wet with heated north-west winds and very heavy rainfall, suffering from occasional tidal flooding 500mm deep.
And the temperature of winter is rarely below 25 degree centigrade with lows of 20 degree centigrade on nights. The house is slightly remote from a generally suburban settlement, which is surrounded by a beach, freshwater lagoon and estuary creek. The architect, Gleen Murcutt, is a specialist in field of housing design working almost exclusively in Australia. This was his first project from an Aboriginal client and first building in a totally tropical location, that he had to solve the problems concerning creating a tolerably comfortable domestic environment in high temperature, preventing the poisonous spiders and biting reptiles, and supporting the house during hurricane-force wind weather. The response of Murcutt was a wood and steel made long-house on stilts, which is not enclosed and encapsulated volume but a shaped platform constructed with different kinds of grilles, baffles and brise soleils. The material of house is sustainable and easily obtained and manufactured, for example, plywood, tallow wood and corrugated iron.
Besides, this kind of prefabricated materials are simply assembled, making them cost effective (Little, 2006). Furthermore, one of the most important characters of the house is recognized for its design approach associated with sustainability (Fronmonot, 2005), which is considered as an environmental filter. The house is able to be opened up in all directions and allow fresh air into the house, as it is enveloped by large sliding doors at the entrance, and windows without glazing, which can be hinged upwards to a maximum horizontal position. The top of house is a simple pitched roof, overhanging the platform generously all round, and extra-generously on the northern side, keeping the sun off the four walls of the house. On the south side of house, vertical slats have been arranged to protect deep inside the sun glazing during the summer, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon. By adopting wide eaves, the house is sheltered from the sun.
Because the sun has been kept out, another priority is to obtain the passing breeze. The ventilation is maintained and preserved even when the house is securely closed up at night. There are swiveling tubes along the roof expelling warm air, and continuous vertical fins, facing the ocean, capturing and slowing down the incoming fresh and fragrant ocean breezes in the interior spaces. Thus, the hot and warm air flows up and goes out the house by pivoting tubes, while fresh air comes into the house from the window and gaps in the floor board. This air circulation is allowed by design of house, and the interior space will be cooling down, which can create a more comfortable environment. The below four analysis diagrams demonstrate the basic sustainable design method. The first diagram illustrates the shading system of the house. The pitched roof can prevent extra sunlight into the house and wide eaves can also shelter the house.
Besides, the vertical fins can be used to prevent the sunlight from east and west, the shutters, which are adjustable, are employed to reduce the sunlight from north and east. This solution is fundamental for the following design. The second diagram displays the ventilation of the house. The house is totally opened and air can flow freely through the house. And the shutters can also be used to control the flow of wind. The third diagram clarifies the structure of house.
The stilted house can stand in the heavy rain days. And gaps in the floor board allow the air to flow up. The forth diagram explains rotating tubes that can expel hot air out of the house. This can decrease the temperature inside and promote interior circulation of the houses.After such an investigation of Marika – Alderton House in environmental design aspects, some issues could be considered as progress development. The existing aspects such as ventilation, structure, daylight, and air circulation are well considered. However, there are also some issues such as thermal comfort, building energy consumption, acoustic, and humidity should be redesigned. Due to the material of the building, although timber itself provides thermal comfort quality, it is still a problem in certain scenario as the building thermal comfort considerations.
Floors, walls, and roofs become the design conditions as thermal comfort aspect. In existing building, there is no extra thermal insulation in floor, wall, and roof construction. As a redesign point, 120mm thermal insulation could be provided as a proposal, which can be used to prevent sunlight radiation. Water proof and acoustic barrier could also be considered in this process. During the investigation of Marika – Alderton House, there is no glass installation during the whole construction because of the respect of nature environment. Maybe it is a common view in previous decades, however, glass as an important design element is used in building design proposals. Double glazed glass not only provides illumination but also thermal comfort.
There is only the feminine window in the existing building which may cause low interior temperature in winter. Double glazed glass could be one of the solutions. Another important issue is building energy consumption.
Buildings gradually aim of green consumption, which means energy and environmental design. During the investigation of Marika – Alderton House, this timber frame construction house needs a proposal of building energy consumption due the structure itself and future renovation. The main aim is to solve the interior lighting problem in the evening. Because of the feminine windows, the lighting condition in the daytime are fine. However, this building needs to develop a energy design proposal in the evening as a result of high electricity consumption. One of the solutions is solar panel.
Slope roof is a nice condition to provide some solar panels to absorb solar energy for the building.