Concrete has an enormous carbon footprint -- according to estimates, concrete production accounts for up to 7 percent of global emissions worldwide, with many tons of it discarded each year. Working with a local sculptor to build a house on a site that also used to serve as a sculpture workshop, Australian architecture firm Archier built this gorgeous open-plan home out of hundreds of recycled concrete blocks.
Situated in Yackandandah and seen over at Dezeen, the Sawmill House is built on the site of a former gold mine, which eventually became a sawmill, and which the sculptor Benjamin Gilbert then transformed into his art studio seven years earlier. But with the introduction of a baby, Gilbert had to build a safe and childproofed house as soon as possible, and turned to his architect brother Chris of Archier for help.
As Chris Gilbert explains, the reclaimed material strategy took advantage of the materials that were already locally available, while also hinting at the site's fascinating history:
The use of the reclaimed concrete blocks is an experiment in harnessing the thousands of tonnes of concrete that goes to waste each year. Each block is a byproduct of excess concrete left in trucks, poured into rough steel troughs. Each of the one-tonne concrete blocks that form the perimeter of the dwelling's walls has a story – a bridge, a footpath, a home – and create a patchwork of colour and texture across the facades. This texture grounds the building in the site, as the layers of colour mimic the sedimentary layers of earth still exposed from the site's former life as a gold mine.
In total, 270 blocks were reused, and timber for the home was from a local supplier who felled and milled the trees just up the road. All the furniture in the house was custom-made by the designers, and the flooring made with roughly cut macrocarpa wood.
The open plan allows for a feeling of spaciousness and greater flexibility: it is designed to be sub-divided whenever needed. The home's connection with the outdoors is emphasized by the use of a 9-metre-wide door that opens up the living area to the veranda, which can be covered or uncovered by an operable roof.
The kitchen features a special touch: a golden layer of patinated brass that alludes once again to the site's gold mine past, while a copper sink stands at the rear of the bathroom.