date of completion:
Fig Tree Pocket Road, Brisbane Queensland
Considered an exemplar of climate-responsive design, the Dalton House at Fig Tree Pocket, designed by John Dalton for his young family, quickly became the project most identified with his early practice. Dalton’s house solution deploys a compact, square plan – the most economical of building footprints – and timber construction for low thermal mass. In keeping with best practice climate design, each building elevation responds to the particular environmental conditions impacting on it. A deep patio on the north excludes summer sun and admits low-angle winter sun to living spaces whilst the east and west elevations have fewer openings and insulation to reduce heat gain. Roof overhangs provide deep shadow to walls, which in turn, extend to the eaves line to assist with protection from the summer solstice sun. The living room wall slides away entirely enabling the patio and living room to extend into one another for additional air movement and parties, which were numerous. Air movement was further maximised through a pop-up roof located centrally over the kitchen, which ventilated north and south. A roof sprinkler system for bush fire protection turned the flat roof into a playground for their children Jane and Amanda Dalton during the heat of summer.
Text adapted from an entry by Elizabeth Musgrave in Australia Modern: Architecture, Landscape and Design 1925-1975, Hannah Lewi and Philip Goad (2019, Thames and Hudson).
The Dalton Residence is a low-set, flat-roofed building with a direct relationship with its bushland setting. The living areas are orientated to the north, with the adjacent terrace shaded by adjustable louvres for sun control. The language of the building is modified by climatic design elements which directly relate the house to its sub-tropical environment. These elements include floor-to-ceiling cross-ventilation via full-height openings, a parasol roof that incorporates water sprays for cooling, a ventilated clerestory for the venting of hot air, and louvred shades to the northern face of the house. Dalton, while acknowledging the influence of modernist Sydney Ancher and Arne Jacobsen closely tailored the design of this house to the Queensland climate.
Read the introduction to the first Australian selection for Docomomo (2000)