Every house has a unique and interesting story. Some, however, are more unusual than others. In the case of the SawMill House, that story includes 270 cement blocks. But start with the beginning. This is a residence for a young family of three. The site used to be occupied by an old sawmill which stopped being used in the late 1990s.
In 2014 Melbourne-based studio Archier finished designing the new building which would serve as a family home for a long time. The company’s holistic design approach focuses on innovation and on finding ways to use raw materials in unexpected ways. Their goal is to create engaging spaces with minimal environmental impact and that’s how the SawMill House was built.
The house is located in Yackandandah, Australia. Moving away from conventional building solutions and techniques, the architects and designers explored new alternatives and that’s how the idea of using reclaimed concrete blocks was born.
Each block weighs a tonne and represents excess concrete from one or more projects in the region. Because each one has a different story and comes from a different place, the blocks form a patchwork of different colors and textures. This gives the home a unique look and a lot of character.
A total of 270 concrete blocks were used for the walls of the residence. They were used in combination with locally-sourced timber to create a balanced look and a welcoming ambiance inside the house.
The house has a highly operable envelope. Features such as a retractable roof and pivoting walls allow natural ventilation, beautiful views and a lot of flexibility to be enjoyed by the owners.
The linear, open plan interior is wrapped in timber and this reveals a subtle rustic side of the residence. An interesting feature is a brass wall. This feature hides the storage and utility areas.
The main social area features access to a decked veranda. The two zones are separated by timber shutters which can be opened to reveal the views and to let in natural light. This way the interior and exterior spaces blend beautifully and in a seamless and natural way.
The large veranda has a retractable roof which opens it to the surroundings, the light and the views. In addition, this feature was also added as a response to the diverse and extreme climate in the region.
The master bedroom has a private courtyard and a set of pivoting wall partitions. The wood used to cover the ceiling floor and some of the walls give the room a very warm and cozy look, creating an intimate and relaxing ambiance. In addition, the private courtyard is an awesome feature.
The textured concrete blocks that form the walls of the house were left bare whenever possible. This detail allows them to keep their original character and to tell their story. The variety of textures and slight differences in color make the house unique and give the interior spaces a rustic-industrial feel without taking away from its warmth and beauty.
By adopting the unconventional building techniques and using reclaimed concrete blocks as the main material for the project, the architects managed to turn this into a cost-effective and sustainable project. More than that, the result is a one-of-a-kind family home that perfectly blends styles, functionality, looks and comfort.