Built on Stilts: Max Pritchard's Bridge House


Photo by Sam Noonan via Architectural Record

Houses don't have to sit on standard foundations; it can be a lot less damaging to the terrain if you put them up in the air. Australian architect Max Pritchard built a lovely 1184 square foot house as a bridge over a stream. There is much to love besides just the treading lightly; it is small and tightly designed, has sophisticated solar and water management, and is a primary residence.

The architect tells Ingrid Spencer in the Architectural Record:

"The owners didn't want a large house, but they had a definite idea for its location," says Pritchard, referring to the sloping bank overlooking a creek and waterhole. "I saw problems, in that I felt a structure would spoil the unique beauty of the site and it also would be difficult to achieve desirable solar orientation."..."By designing the house as a bridge across the creek," he says, "impact on the site is minimized."


Photo by Sam Noonan via Architectural Record

It has a lot of other green features as well; Ingrid Spencer writes:

Pressed steel louvers on the north side, ceiling fans, and operable windows facilitate ventilation and shading, omitting the need for air-conditioning. In wintertime, the low sun shines through the double-glazed floor-to-ceiling windows, warming the black concrete floor slab. Additional heating comes from a wood combustion heater. Photovoltaic cells on the roof of the garage supply all electricity and feed whatever is not needed back into the grid.

Water is collected from the roof for use inside the house, and wastewater is pumped some 300 feet from the creek and dispersed underground. "Minimizing impact on the site, creating an efficient structural system, and ensuring that the area of the house was kept to a useable minimum were key elements of the design," says Pritchard. "The biggest challenge was to create a unique, steel-framed, engineered home at a price comparable with standard houses."


More photos and information in Architectural Record.


A similar house was built near Peterborough, Ontario in the 70s by Toronto architect Jim Strassman; Unfortunately this was the only photo I could find.

More Houses Built on Stilts:
Built on Stilts: House in Never Never Land
Built on Stilts: Images from the New Ninth Ward in New Orleans
La Tour de Bébelles
Loblolly House: Pictures at Last
What Lies Beneath: Our Homes' Foundations

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