Stamp House – designed for the worst…

Stamp House waiting...
Stamp House waiting...

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Daintree / Cape Tribulation QLD  Australia  –  Charles Wright Architects 

Lot size:     30 hectares  (75 acres)
Year built:     2011/2012

There is only one place in the world where two World Heritage sites meet – Cape Tribulation. Here, the Daintree Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. It’s wild, beautiful, primitive, sparsely populated country. Flooding is a near annual event and Category 5 (the most severe) cyclones have been regular visitors. Designing a home to meet the most demanding conditions nature can throw at it has resulted in an absolutely unique design.

Stamp House - sitting above the highest storm surge
Stamp House – sitting above the highest storm surge

Predominantly concrete construction, the home not only meets the required cyclone ratings, it is a designated cyclone shelter! The cantilevering is to keep the home above any potential floods and storm surges. The entrance to the building is on the upper level.  It’s accessed by crossing a long bridge over the water. Once Inside, a large central living room offers various seating areas, a gym, a kitchen and the dining room. There are six bedrooms situated in the wings.

The grid pattern of circular indents that dot the walls and roof of this home are reminiscent of the perforated edges of stamps – hence the name. In fact, the home was commissioned by well known stamp collectors, Rodney and Marider Perry. Even the swimming pool shape was inspired by the “One Pound Jimmy” postage stamp issued in the 1950s. The stamp, a favourite of the owners, acknowledges the aboriginal heritage of the site.

It’s essential to look at the lifetime impact of this home rather than the embodied energy in all that concrete. Concrete ‘is forever’ and while many other properties in this region suffer storm damage frequently, Stamp House is impervious. It is also operationally carbon neutral, generating 100% of it’s power requirements and harvesting 250,000 litres of rainwater annually. Of course, in keeping with the pristine nature of the region, all sewerage and greywater is treated on-site to a very high standard before use as irrigation.

From the architect:

“CWA were approached by the project client to deliver a carbon neutral (in operation) solution for an environmentally sensitive site off-grid on the edge of the FNQ beachfront rainforest. The aim was not to simply produce an engineered outcome but produce a building which made the most of the site’s natural amenity and re-introduced the surrounding native wetland environment. The building is literally reflected by way of its siting over an engineered water ecosystem which was the result of lengthy liaison & collaboration with all levels of government.

The design is formed in an innovative combination of in-situ and precast concrete. The concrete has been engineered and insulated incorporating a total solar panelled roof to provide for a constant cooler and more comfortable ambient temperature year-round. The design utilises massive cantilevers to mitigate impact from potential flooding & king tide inundation associated with cyclonic activity. The project is category 5 cyclone proof and therefore classed as a cyclone shelter.

ESD initiatives include: total 250,000 ltr water harvesting, recycling and reticulation, renewable solar energy generation with solar backup non-reliant on fossil fuel backup generation, On-site Advanced Tertiary Sewerage treatment plant, grey water recycling and irrigation, Shaded and Insulated thermal mass engineering, thermal storage tank system for cooling with feed back into mechanical, hydraulic facilities etc. Building automation (CBUS) will be featured and all systems will be controlled via CBUS.”

Major Awards:
2014 Robin Dodds Award
2014 Queensland House of the Year

The home now operates as Alkira Resort and is available for holiday lettings for a fortunate few.

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Different?  Another virtually indestructible home is The Invisible Dome Home