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Five Yards

PROJECT:
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LOCATION:
CONSTRUCTION:
ARCHITECT:
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Five Yards
Carmel French & Richard Nichols 
Howrah, Tasmania, Australia 7018
Building Edge
Archier, Josh FitzGerald 
Aldanmark
Double Glazing Capral Suite
Commercial Windows and Doors - Rod Betts  
Commercial Windows and Doors - Rod Betts  

The Five Yards project is a perfect fusion of minimalist design, environmental efficiency and natural elegance. Harmoniously enclosing five unique gardens within a series of peaceful living spaces, this award-winning residence has been justly praised for creating a serene and memorable residential environment. 

As Architect Josh FitzGerald explains, Five Yards was created with great care. ‘The building was designed around the clients’ desire to constantly engage with the adjacent gardens,’ he explains. ‘While featuring extensive glazing, Five Yards offers something far more complex and rewarding than the standard “glass cube”. 

‘Each room has a corresponding garden with a unique composition – the gardens articulate the house, and vice-versa. It’s not until you move into the individual spaces that you really appreciate each of the corresponding gardens.’ 

The building’s advanced and innovative construction techniques are the key to its versatility. ‘We used premium double glazed Capral window and door systems throughout to insulate the expansive glazed areas, and a high-performance Structurally Insulated Panel System (SIPS), a product uniting structural, insulation and aesthetic solutions,’ says Josh. ‘The Canadian-manufactured panels were 3D modelled and installed by Fenster and Panel, resulting in minimal wastage and rapid installation. Their lightweight nature enabled them to be hand-installed.’ 

The structurally efficient panel system replaced the traditional stud and insulation model. ‘A combination of the panels and Capral’s window and door systems provided a thermally consistent building envelope, essential for the building’s high energy rating of 6.5 stars,’ Josh explains. The insulation properties were so impressive, in fact, that they caused an unexpected benefit during installation. ‘When the panels were erected, the builders found the structure warm to work in – even before the windows and doors were installed,’ he recalls. 

The lining’s natural appearance pays tribute to the house’s deeply considered connection with nature. ‘The raw, textured finish of the SIPS panels reveal the building’s material quality in a cost-effective manner,’ says Josh. ‘The timber is finished with Osmo Oil Polyx Matt oil, expressing deep grain and richness while maintaining colour and texture. The recycled Tasmanian oak wall lining provides a natural feel while creating an interesting patchwork effect.’ 

Close attention to the glazing and window systems were vital for a building oriented around natural light transmission. ‘The full glazed walls posed a thermal performance challenge, which we addressed by selecting glazing with excellent thermal properties,’ says Josh. ‘Full walls of double glazing, combined with a restrained materials palette, increase the perception of interior space by strengthening interior–exterior connections. In winter, the high thermal performance creates a pleasant environment without the need of heating from the log fire; in summer, the spaces are naturally ventilated by the interspersed courtyards and highly operable glazing.’

Capral technology was the key to ensuring the building’s success, with the locally supplied, fully compliant Capral window suites specified for their quality, durability and performance. All windows used in the Five Yards project are argon-filled IGUs,’ says Marcus Jacobson, Commercial Manager of Commercial Windows and Doors, Tasmania. ‘To ensure maximum efficiency in this challenging project, we supplied a range of high-performance products that function seamlessly in tandem – including the Capral 419 series window, the Capral 425 series window, the Capral 900 series double-glazed sliding door, and the Capral 200 series door. As the architects confirm, the results have enabled the clients to benefit in gaining very high light transmittance while retaining superb insulation properties.’   

The link between interior and exterior is further strengthened by clever engineering and slimline framing. ‘The glass is recessed into the concrete and the ceiling, so you don’t see the edges of the frames,’ says Josh. ‘Capral front-glazed aluminium frames with clear argon-filled double glazing were powder-coated with Interpon D1000 Sable Bass, creating a textured finish that resembles raw steel. The windows were supplied and installed by Commercial Windows and Doors.’ 

The building’s core serves as a threshold between public and private spaces while housing key services. Electrical services and an oversized box gutter run the length of the building in the bulkhead, with downpipes concealed in the joinery as they run to the water tanks. Low-profile Kliplok roof sheeting and SIPS roof panels reduce height, allowing for single lengths of Scyon Axon cladding.

One room is particularly important to the building’s identity. ‘Archier designed, made and installed the kitchen, which is constructed from prefabricated cabinets wrapped in Victorian ash, with laser-cut stainless steel benchtops and Bosch appliances,’ says Josh. ‘The timber tones permeating the house are fully present in the kitchen.’  
The kitchen space is fully integrated with the surrounding areas. ‘As devotees of cooking and gardening, the owners wanted the kitchen to be integrated with the garden,’ says Josh. ‘Most houses place the kitchen against the back wall, but the Five Yards kitchen presents a social space with two glass-wrapped floating island benches and a view onto one of the courtyards. The kitchen appears to float in space, delicately combining a sense of freedom and enclosure.’ 

The bathrooms are also a clear departure from the expected. ‘Typical bathrooms are designed around privacy, so they are usually dark with frosted windows,’ Josh reflects. ‘By contrast, we made a conscious effort to extend the bathroom space out into the courtyard. This required changing preconceived notions of a bathroom to create a sense of openness and abundant light.’

Throughout, the lighting system maximises efficiency. ‘Working in tandem with the high-insulation glazing, the lighting combines full illumination with minimal electricity consumption,’ says Josh. ‘Low-energy LEDs are used throughout, with strip pelmet lighting along the central core and under-bench LED strips. Feature lighting is provided by Archier’s brass Highline pendant lights in the kitchen, bedroom and library.’ 

Each of the clients’ requests was made with minimal energy consumption in mind. ‘As the client refused to compromise on efficiency, the master bedroom (for example) manages to achieve a very high energy rating with a full glazed wall,’ Josh says. ‘Although the Master Bedroom was scaled back to reduce the building’s footprint, retaining the full wall of glass makes the space feel twice as large.’

Each room in Five Yards was designed in response to its corresponding garden.
Yard 1, which is partially visible as you enter the building, is a semi-private space for the library,’ says Josh. ’The simple combination of full-width glass and minimalist frames breaks down the threshold between library and garden.’ 
Yard 2 features an outdoor dining table, with direct access from the kitchen, entry and main garden. It is enclosed on three sides so to provide a useable outdoor living space for the majority of the year.
Yard 3 is attached to the Master Bedroom. ‘This yard is also next to the “Butlers’ Quarters”, where Carmel makes her preserves,’ says Josh. ‘Yard 3 can be fully experienced when sitting at the dining table, which is why we carefully situated the windows in that space.’ 
The timber-screened Yard 4 is fully private. ‘This yard is only for the bedroom, with a walk-in robe and ensuite,’ says Josh. ‘The area between the bathroom and the walk-in robe can be completely closed off, creating a serene and peaceful space.’ 
Yard 5 is the main garden, the social garden. It is here that Richard and Carmel were married shortly after the house was completed, and where their friends and family are entertained when visiting. 
Responding in detail to the clients’ needs, the Five Yards project evolved naturally. ‘We worked very closely with the client and the builder throughout, resolving the finer details on site through a shared conversation,’ Josh concludes. ‘Our collective, collaborative approach allowed the house to naturally evolve as it was designed and built.’ 

This enchanting space vividly demonstrates the fruitful linkage of architecture and nature. 


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