An Architect’s Sustainable Creekside Family Home In Frankston South

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An Architect’s Sustainable Creekside Family Home In Frankston South

An Architect’s Sustainable Creekside Family Home In Frankston South

Architecture

by Amelia Barnes

Sweetwater House is the newly-built family home of  Jackson Clements Burrows Architects principal Christopher Botterill and family.

Pared-back materials and clean lines respond to the property’s architectural context informed by prominent examples of mid-century design.

The home’s dominant materials are concrete, blackbutt, galvanised iron, and cross laminated timber (CLT) selected for their raw beauty.

CLT panelling establishes a subtle visual hierarchy inside, with 120mm panels used for primary structural elements, and 90mm panels used on built-in benches.

Studies show CLT can lower the carbon emissions of large buildings by roughly 40 percent over traditional materials.

Artworks on left by Ian Strange.

The house is surrounded by a mature landscape of native gum trees and shrubs.

Four different shades of soft green laminate throughout the home respond to subtle changes in daylight and reference the surrounding bushland.

Honouring and revitalising the landscape was central to the design.

The home boasts a long list of sustainability credentials, facilitating an overall 8 star NatHERS rating.

The intensity of the facade’s galvanised steel finish will patina over time, eventually transitioning into a soft grey that echoes the hues of the landscape and will further immerse the home into its setting.

After 20 years living in Brunswick, architect Christopher Botterill and his family moved 70 kilometres away to Frankston South, to engage more actively with nature and provide support to Christopher’s ageing parents.

They purchased a large bush block host to a derelict house that called for a new home and significant commitment to regenerating the site’s ecology, extending into Sweetwater Creek. Non-Indigenous shrubs and weed species — including swathes of bamboo, blackberries, and ivy — needed to be removed.

Christopher wanted to revive and tend to this landscape to benefit the entire community. ‘The creek environment is visible from the road, and it was important for the house to remain visually permeable, retaining this vista for passersby,’ he explains. ‘Honouring the landscape was central to the design.’

Christopher is a principal at Jackson Clements Burrows Architects, who he worked with to design a ‘materially honest’ and highly sustainable home.

Pared-back materials and clean lines respond to the property’s architectural context, informed by prominent examples of mid-century design such as the nearby McClune House designed by Robin Boyd.

The home’s dominant materials are concrete, blackbutt, galvanised iron, and cross laminated timber (CLT) selected for their raw beauty (not requiring artificial finishing or decoration), and ability to be recycled or upcycled in future.

CLT also has carbon sequestering abilities. Studies show the material can lower the carbon emissions of large buildings by roughly 40 percent over traditional materials.

The intensity of the facade’s galvanised steel finish will patina over time, eventually transitioning into a soft grey that echoes the hues of the landscape and will further immerse the home into its setting.

Christopher’s home also boasts a long list of sustainability credentials, resulting in an impressive overall NatHERS rating of 8 stars. External openings are airtight, the walls feature high-value thermal insulation, and a physical separation of the facade from the core building structure creates a thermal break to ensure a stable interior temperature.

Day to day operations are underpinned by a solar array that creates more power than the home uses, and rainwater is harvested and stored in two 5000 litre underground tanks.

The floor plan of the house has been designed to support flexible and multi-generational habitation as required. Most significantly, the parent’s and children’s bedrooms are located at separate ends of the house, each with their own entrance, and generous garden views.

Christopher is exceptionally proud of the home, which was conceived over Melbourne’s extended Covid lockdowns when building materials were scarce and rapidly rising in cost.

With the support of Melbourne Water’s Stream Frontage Management Program, Christopher and his family now manage funding for four adjacent properties, which helps cover weed control and growing Indigenous plantings along Saltwater Creek. ‘We have a vision to seek further support from property owners sharing the creek to rehabilitate the creek to its natural state,’ says Christopher.

The home encapsulates humility, warmth, and minimal impact — everything Christopher wishes to be known for as a designer.

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