Shade screen house Harrison and White

The plan for this complex house is surprisingly simple, but the walls and roofs bend and deform to reflect the path (and light) of the sun – and the slats add creative character that is neither accidentally abstract nor whimsically artistic.

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Australian architecture firm Harrison and White used computer models to create pre-construction simulations that traced the path of daylight from sunup to sundown, and every place in between. The result is this solar-smart home with an angled shade structure facade that directs sunlight exactly where it’s needed, and not where it isn’t.

Shade screen house Harrison and White facade

Reverse-shading techniques were used to project lighting conditions throughout the day and place angles, slopes and spaces accordingly both inside and out.

Shade screen house Harrison and White front room
Shade screen house Harrison and White stairs

Between these solar-inspired choices and privacy-related design decisions, the final result is a complicated object that stands apart in an otherwise traditional neighborhood, but that also shapes exterior patio, porch, deck and balcony spaces to balance views, greenery and seclusion in a densely-built area.

For the price tag (less than a half-million dollars), it is really quite surprising how much complexity the builders were able to accomplish. Many architects have rule-of-thumb approaches that limit odd angles to one-per-project, while this one has more on a single side than you can easily count.

Shade screen house Harrison and White roof

“We see one of the key issues in Australian housing being how we use the sun to improve new and existing houses. In this project we made a very clear attempt to form a house around the idea of preserving light into a garden space. As houses become (often unnecessarily) bigger and blocks smaller, the available land for gardens is reduced. We have created a garden that enjoys light all day – the form has cut from it the rays of the morning sun to ensure light falls onto the growing area, one which the clients use for productive growing.”

“This process is achieved by reverse shadow casting – taking the area of space that is to have direct light and extruding it along the different paths of the sun. This is then subtracted from the barn-like form that is allowed under the planning controls, to the maximum height of 9m. The surface created from this then becomes the external screen – and this acts as both balustrading and sun screening to the deck and western façade.”