A place for wildness: Eumundi House

A place for wildness: Eumundi House

10.02.20

‘The idea for turning a shed inside out for the horses came from watching how the herd would congregate under one of several mature fig trees on the property. They were sheltered but free to move, to adapt to both the weather and personality disputes within the herd. No fences, gates or corals that typical farm buildings use to control the movement of animals. So although it’s a small project, it’s quite radical in the rural context.’ – Peter Ireland, Principal AJ+C

Eumundi House reflects a different approach to rural life. The clients wanted the architecture of three modest new structures to help forge a close relationship with a herd of brumbies that now have free rein of their 35-acre property in the Noosa hinterland.

The design maintains an original farmstead and adds two outbuildings: a modest home of one bedroom plus study, and a detached garage. Together with the farmstead, they define the property’s domesticated zone without the fences or barricades typical to rural estates. Downhill to the west, a horse pavilion is added beside a large unfenced paddock, where the owner works with the horses. The lack of fences between house and outbuildings supports the clients’ greater landscape projects of habitat regeneration to encourage diversity, and free movement of wildlife and the horses across the property. Their vision is not a wilderness as such, but a place for wildness.

New structures reference Australian rural vernaculars in form and materials of corrugated steel and timber. The new house is carved around the site, responding to the landscape, culminating in a high roof gable to the north, framing a view of Mt Cooroy – a significant natural feature of the region. Geometry of the house evolved from a simple shed form of gable roof over orthogonal plan, with the gable roof extending above the living room and partially over the north deck. The detached garage is a simpler form, a mediating fragment between the house and original farmstead.

The first new structure to be built – the horse pavilion – turns the typical horse shelter inside out, with no corrals or gates to confine or cause injury. At its core are a ‘tack’ room, trailor and food store, supporting a broad cantilevered roof. Essentially a verandah, under which the horses can freely move.The design maintains an original farmstead and adds two outbuildings: a modest home of one bedroom plus study, and a detached garage. Together with the farmstead, they define the property’s domesticated zone without the fences or barricades typical to rural estates. Downhill to the west, a horse pavilion is added beside a large unfenced paddock, where the owner works with the horses.

‘Cohabitation with the horses was a driving force in us building a new home here. The herd congregates regularly at the verandah waiting for me; it’s one of my greatest joys. The design has given the gift of freedom and choice in the essential structures needed for living.’ – Lynn Scott, client

It is separate yet visible from the house, allowing a respectful close contact between horses and people. The house and outdoor decks are elevated to allow the horses safe, but limited access to the domestic edges of the house. A strong working relationship with the local builder and tradespeople saw a skilled resolution of the west-facing timber screen, to operate effortlessly as a louvre, while elegantly referencing the crude slab huts of early settlement.

Roof areas perform several sustainability functions with broad eaves mitigating sun, rainwater harvesting for irrigation and solar panels to come. A ‘spitter’ off the north gable directs runoff into a new riparian zone encouraging ecological diversity. To mitigate sun on the west face of the house, rough-sawn planks, sourced from a local mill, are assembled into a rustic screen, pivoting like louvres.