Taking on Wood Solution’s challenge to convert a benchmark house into a flood-resilient timber home, Hervey Bay House sets out to demonstrate that through strategic design and detailing a light-weight timber house can not only weather an unexpected flood event with minimised damage, but also improve and uphold the safety and wellbeing of the occupants and wider community during and following such an event.
To design for true flood-resilience, it was accepted that the 1m flood event outlined in the competition brief would be an entirely unforeseen occurrence ultimately flooding the ground level of the house – one that the local planning code would not have pre-empted with minimum floor height requirement.
Hervey Bay - Badtjala, Queensland
Competition - Shortlisted
Gross Floor Area
Hervey Bay House
With accessibility, affordability and constructability as central objectives, the proposal maintains the floor area and spatial function of the benchmark house yet presents a wholly reimagined innovative, sustainable, and site-respectful design that enhances occupant wellbeing. All whilst incorporating methods to minimise flood and cyclone damage and fallout.
The primary move in reconfiguring the benchmark layout into flood-resilient capability was to split the various spaces into two clear zones across two storeys instead of one; with mitigation measures at ground and protected safe zone at the upper. The ground floor nestles into the site with concrete slab on ground in consideration of accessibility provision and thermal mass benefit; with upper level high and dry well above any feasibly unexpected flood event. By providing the security of the safe upper zone, the occupants can swiftly relocate ground level furniture, belongings and appliances up out of harm’s way – eased with generous straight staircase and optional ceiling hoist. With continued access to the main bedrooms, bathroom, shared internal and external spaces, isolated upper electrical circuit and relocated kitchen appliances a family can plausibly wait out the flood event if unable to evacuate in time; or return to a liveable house ready to start the clean up as soon as the waters drop.
Beyond action planning ability to relocate low-level items to safety, at ground level the design is all about clever construction detailing, with hardy materials assembled strategically to ease moisture evaporation and the clean up to follow. Polished concrete makes for hardy, easily cleanable flooring. Marine ply-lined walls assembled with expressed screw joints allow for easy removal to fast-track drying of the wall cavities. Whilst the use of painted hardwood weatherboards externally allows for targeted replacement of boards damaged by debris impact or irreparable water damage; followed by a coat of paint the exterior looks as good as new.
Taking a leaf from the beloved local Queenslander vernacular the design celebrates natural light-filled, breathable, timber-lined spaces accentuated with the expression of beautiful timber trusses. The street frontage is designed to allow for distinctive personalisation to meet individual clients’ preferences. The feature battens can be substituted for alternative screening types, such as perforated aluminium, latticework, or even omitted altogether to welcome the sun depending on site