By designing three separate spaces instead of one building, Cymon Allfrey managed to make his unique family holiday home in Hanmer Springs feels like a fun campsite
Q&A with Cymon Allfrey of Cymon Allfrey Architects
How is the bach the antithesis of your townhouse?
We were focused on creating a home that disrupts the normal patterns of life. The bach has a way of bringing us together: eating as a family, board games and backyard cricket. I think it’s partly a result of the values we set out to achieve, and partly the setting. At home we rely heavily on the surrounding area for social stimulation; here we are far more likely to engage with each other.
You describe a process of learning how to live in the bach.
I had expected it to just happen, but it’s a continual process of learning. My advice is to be patient. Don’t try to change or tune the architecture; instead, let yourself modify and adapt to the surroundings. If you feel the urge to tweak, wait a few months then consider if it’s needed – usually, it’s not.
What does the bach as an “intergenerational asset” mean?
The planning creates separate spaces for separate groups or families to occupy with autonomy. We also selected materials and finishes that wear over time, without requiring a lot of maintenance. And we’ve incorporated a few ‘smarts’ like photovoltaics and low-energy fittings to reduce running costs and not leave a future financial burden.
You’ve built a low-mass house. Why?
On a cold winter Friday evening we arrive to a space that’s about 11 degrees, but which can be heated in less than 30 minutes. Other than during the darkest winter days, there’s enough mass in the timber interior to keep us comfortable for about a day without having to crank up the fire. The trade-off is that in summer we don’t have the mass to regulate peak temperatures – but that’s what sliding doors are for.
Words by: Matt Philp. Photography by: Sam Hartnett.