ross mcleod and astrid huwald


The philosophers huts design studio asked students to consider mans relationship with nature and how such thinking has shaped the many philosophies of civilisation. The issues exposed by these investigations formed the background for the design of a small dwelling in which one could retreat from modern life and contemplate nature.

The site was twenty acres of natural busland in Heathcote , Victoria. The students spent a week on the property, firstly choosing a specific site for their hut and then mapping aspects of flora and fauna, views and sight lines, sun paths, wind directions and micro climates that defined the dynamics of the site.

In concert with these physical studies the students were asked to develop a guiding concept statement and approach to the way in which they designed the hut. They were asked to look for a driving analogy, metaphor or allegory they wished too express and to formulate a set of conditions or ways in which people would inhabit and interact with the space.

This conceptual framework was referred to at all stages of the design development in order to clarify design decision making and ensure that the hut was conceived as an integrated entity. From siting and structure through to the selection of materials and detailing of junctions.

The huts were designed to accomodate between one and four people for between one and seven days at a time. The program of the huts had to address living, sleeping, cooking, bathing and toilet spaces. The realtionship of the huts interior spaces with that of the exterior environment were considered paramount in the shaping of the huts form.

The volume of the hut could be any shape, interlocking shapes or series of shapes. However it was to be no bigger than 81m3 (equivalent to 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 m) interior volume. External decks and stair spaces could be added to complement the function of this interior volume.

In association with the philosophical and aesthetic connections with the landscape the designs were to incorporate appropriate technologies and materials which address sustainable issues of insulation, energy, water collection and waste disposal.

With all these issues in mind the students developed their concepts, through a series of sketch designs and models, computer generated studies, technical plans and a final 1:20 scale detailed model.

The finished designs display a diverse range of approaches to the issues of dwelling space and the natural environment and serve as a source book of concepts and solutions for sustainable building and living practices.

To view the projects go to The Philosophers Huts (PDF)


STUDENTS: Tina Dimanivong, Christina Fogale, Ho Kin Lok (Joyce), Jacqueline Holland, Hui Ching Laam, Lynda Nguyen, Sze Po Kan (Silve), Tam Lap (Michael), Alice Wensor, Charlotte Dethick,Kwok Yin Hak (Penne), Farah Damia, Kim Younsun (Ally), Ryoo Eun Young (Chloe), Yap Chooi-Wen (Brenda), Oscar Lam, Tess Vafiadis