Climate change has affected Australia’s environment so dramatically that the interior desert now meets the south east Australian coastline. Average temperatures have increased, the sea level has risen and rainfall has dropped. Many animal and plant species are now extinct. The island continent is in terminal drought. In this context, the challenge is how to survive the environment. Blowhouse, a speculative residential proposition by Paul Morgan Architects, is a ‘life support unit’ located on Australia’s southern coastline.
The Blowhouse project is a kind of lung. Strong prevailing winds blow across its curved skin, raising and lowering it. In effect, the building is breathing. Solenoids attached on the underside of the roof transform the energy produced by the roof’s movement into static electricity. Streamlining also supplies air to linear wind turbines. Photovoltaic cells on the rear louvres generate energy from solar radiation.
Conceived as a modular type, habitants could repeat the Blowhouse around coastal locations. The profile simulates the aerodynamic and phototropic growth patterns of indigenous scrub that nestles into crevices along the coast. The window ‘water bags’, inspired by succulent plants that survive in these conditions, thermally insulate the Blowhouse.
Flutes on the shell harvest water, which then flows into an internal glass water tank located in the kitchen ‘bridge’. The water temperature remains at around 21 degrees, and ambiently assists in maintaining the internal air temperature at this level. A heating element sourced from the photovoltaic panels keeps the water temperature warm during the cooler months.
The bioengineered Blowhouse is an energy neutral life support unit that utilises the environment’s kinetic potential.