Sean Godsell

House in the Hills

Sean Godsell . House in the Hills afasia (5)

Sean Godsell Architects . photos: © Earl Carter . + archdaily

The site was excised from a working sheep farm. It consists of 25 hectares of cleared and underworked paddocks. It slopes from its mid-length highpoint to the north and south – both slopes having spectacular views. An established windbreak of Cyprus pines flanks the west boundary and provides a degree of protection from the prevailing south-westerly winds which pummel the south slope, making it a less desirable location for a new house. In this part of Australia, the southerly winds are cold. In fact, the wind fundamentally dictated the design of this building.


The north (sun) facing living pavilion and the adjacent courtyard is protected in part by the re-shaped landscape immediately to their south and in part by a 30m x 30m operable louvered parasol that hovers over both pavilion and courtyard. The parasol protects the house offering both shelters from and deflection of the prevailing wind as well as varying degrees of shade and direct sunlight depending on the time of day and year. More importantly, the parasol acts as a place-maker, localizing and defining a precinct on a large site within which the essential requirements for habitation – shelter, protection, security – can comfortably occur.

Simple steel framed haysheds, roofed but open on all sides, are dotted across the Australian countryside and their evocative silhouettes offer a romantic rationale for this Arcadian myth- house. Notions of the frontier; of survival in a never-ending battle with Nature are close to the bone for many Australians. In the outback, any constructed shelter can mean the difference between life and death-shade from the intense heat, height above the flooding river so that these simple, often weather-ravaged structures assume a more profound meaning.