MNPG 2014 Competition- Sustainable Abode Hub- Australian Snowies

At the end of August, 2014, submissions to the 2014 MNPG Arch competition were due. The basis around the MNPG competition is to bring together the greater architectural community to generate ideas on potential architectural issues. This year the competition require participants to design a modern abode hub in the Australian Snowy Mountains, infusing architecture, technology, ecology and healthy living. A link to our presentation panels is at the bottom of the page.

John Henry Architects summary for the entry is as follows:

The competition site location within the Snowy Mountains of Australia presents an opportunity to understand the Australian high country; the extreme conditions that are faced throughout the year, its natural beauty and constantly changing natural landscape which has been drawn upon for the design.

We imagined what was possible in the Australian Snowy Mountains.  We saw many rocks that form the peaks of the highest mountains in Australia;  the snowy peaks glistening in shades of ochre in the winter sun; patches of greenery breaking through the snow to reach the sunlight; and a snowflake as it forms. What we envisioned was then abstractly integrated into the architecture.

Place

We have located the Abode Hub within Perisher Ski Resort (Pretty Valley Rd). Perisher Ski Resort is Australia’s largest ski resort, located in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales, at an elevation of 1720m. The site is accessible by road and snow train.
The resort is primarily a winter only resort, although all year round accommodation is available for summer activities (mountain biking and hiking). It is also within the ideal location for Alpine wildflower summer expeditions. The population staying on the mountains at any one night during the winter season is an average of 2300 people. There is a demand for sustainable accommodation to meet the demands of the fluctuating numbers of visitors to the area. The Abode is to be a ski-in ski-out Hub at the Resort.

Space

The Hub provides 3 bedrooms, enough to sleep the required 5 people,  a kitchen, heated storage room, work station for equipment and lounge and dining areas.
The Hub is primarily intended for living, however the design allows the Hub to have multitude of uses. The Hub can double up as a Club house/ Lodge hybrid, as there are areas big enough for large congregations. The large living spaces can alternatively be used as dormitory accommodation for larger groups. These areas are separated from each other, to allow a club to hold a function on the ground floor, while people stay in the lower ground/ basement area.
The design of the building allows indoor and outdoor use of the facility. This enables the building to be adaptive to the seasonable change.

Design

Form
The design is inspired by the geometry formed by a snow flake. This translated into the layout of the plan and the facade. The plan of the hub is configured in a way to allow the hub to be transported to the site and connected together. Snowflakes  similar geometric properties allow each snow flake to bind, which forms a solid and stable ground covering of snow. Following the same principle of snowflakes, the Abode Hub’s geometric design has the ability to attach directly with another hub by the entrance patios. The Hubs can be combined to cater for future growth of the Resort or create larger Hubs if required.

Colour
The massing of the Hub is formed to represent the rock clusters at the ridge of the mountain peaks.  The earthy tones of rocks and ochre from the glistening snow are reflected in the shape and colour of the  facade of the Hub, connecting back to the natural elements.

Sustainability Factors
The double height facade is covered with a series of 3 different hexagonal ‘cells’, a Solar Cell, a Green Cell and a Window Cell. For the most part, the facade is clad in the Solar Cell. The Solar Cell will harvest the energy produced by the sunlight throughout the day, which will go to provide electricity to it. The excess power will be stored and fed to the Resort’s power system to be used for their facilities.

The Green Cell is a green wall system, located around the Window Cells. The patches of green around the building are inspired by the greenery breaking through areas of the snow and the patches of moss on the rock peaks. During the summer months the Green Cell acts as a shade for the Window Cells on this facade system.
The Double Glazed Window Cell, allows light to enter the building and to have views out onto the mountains through snow flaked windows.

The façade of these Cells will not only provide visual interest but generate power, solar gain and passive cooling. This is visually exciting, as it adds a powerful sustainability value statement for this forward-thinking community project.

The hub design is leading in sustainable technologies, not only in the use of the solar panels. The Hub has a prominent green house connected to the kitchen and outside. The greenhouse allows the Hub to produce its own food year round, as well as acting as a passive heating device during the winter months. A filtered water tank located under the basement slab, to eliminate the risk of freezing over, provides the whole hub with water. Located on the roof is a wind turbine, capturing the mountain gusts generating power.
These Cells will offset the carbon footprint produced from the construction to promote biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

Although the intended location is within the Perisher Resort, The Hub is designed to be completely self reliant, so if located elsewhere within the Snowy Mountains the Hub is still livable.

The design leads the way in sustainability, generating conversations of future designs. It provides a range of diverse uses of a building, dependant on changing conditions. The proposal is not just a Hub but an inspiration drawn from natural and a sustainable way of living.

Panels