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The Paradise House  TOLMIE


The word 'paradise' is derived from the Old Persian word meaning 'garden'. When discussing the kind of house the owners would like, the idea came up that it would be ideal to have no house, but to live outside under a pergola covered in vines, surrounded by a beautiful garden.


And so the design began as a pergola, but very soon the discussion turned to keeping the kangaroos out, so we would need a fence. But a fence wouldn't keep the blowflies out, so perhaps we should have insect screens. But insect screens are no barrier to cold winter winds blowing off nearby Mt.Buller, so glass would really be needed after all, and double glazing at that. But the house would overheat in summer, so some of the glass walls should be solid walls instead, and some of the walls should be a heavy material like rammed earth to even out the extremes of temperature. And when the rain poured, a roof would be a real advantage.


And the more we thought about it, the more we understood why people live in houses and not out in the open! So even though we ended up with a conventional house, it retains a unique appearance due to our unusual design approach. For example the pergola flows through the house uninterruptedly, and the house has a strong visual connection between the inside and the surrounding natural landscape.


Since the photos were taken the vines have grown, and the garden has been commenced. The rainwater tank has filled, and the 'worm farm' which we have installed instead of a septic tank is processing all sewage and compost generated by the occupants. The house is warm in winter and cool in summer, and the only heating needed is the wood heater when the weather is cloudy. And any time someone wants to spend a few hours living under a pergola with vines, it's only a few steps away.


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