Dolphin House Gnarabup WA
43 Point Marmaduke Drive, Dolphin House, Gnarabup, Margaret River, Western Australia
Dolphin House (43 Point Marmaduke Drive) construction was started in the March 2000 and finished in September 2000. The initial design was by Craig Fisher and was finished by Judy Fisher (Architect). It was designed as a passive solar house using natural timbers and rammed earth in the construction. It is located on 2000m2 block and the house is 250m2 with 50m2 of decks. It is located in a mediteranean climate. Water supply is from a central residential mains.
The upstairs area is timber frame cedar board insulated with lamb’s wool allowing the rooms to retain heat in the winter and stay cool in the summer and then release heat quickly in the summer once all the large verandah doors and windows are opened at the end of the day. The downstairs area is built into the back of a sandune providing insulation from the earth. The house performs remarkably well in summer and winter with the combination of the rammed earth, cellar area and the large verandahs.
The large North-facing window heats the house through the winter. The blinds need to be closed in summer to stop the house heating quickly. The Wood fire heats the water and the house in winter and a solar panel heats the water in the summer. There is a booster, which can be used for times when it is overcast or during a change of seasons when the fire is not required. The predominant winds are South West in the summer and North West in the Winter. The potential for a wind generator is high as the position of the building is elevated and there it is very windy area. The house has superb views over the coastal area and the Leeuwin National Park, which surrounds the development. The surfing and fishing in the area is among some of the best in Australia.
Mark Fisher made the front door and other Jarrah and pine doors in the house using local timbers and recycled wood. Jarrah has been exported all over the world as one of the hardest termite resistant woods in the world. It is used for many railway line sleepers throughout the colonial countries of the world and the tramways of London. It produces a beautiful look when finished as seen on the front doorframe and the staircase. Unfortunately the wood is very slow growing taking up to 100 years for a tree to reach full maturity and logging of the tree for all uses other than fine furniture manufacture has all but ceased. The staircase was made by Judy Fishers Father, Tom Ritter who is an old German craftsman and learnt his trade many years ago before coming into Australia in the 1940’s. There are four threaded bolts used in the whole structure with the rest of the support supplied using carved joints. The front verandah and underlying structure of the verandah is Jarrah. Other Woods used are Victoria Ash (Skirting and Windows) and Tasmanian Oak (Upstairs Floor) and Pine (Doors).
The Rammed Limestone construction is often used in The Margaret River region (30% of houses in the area use rammed earth). It produces a beautiful natural look however it is very hard to work with. It is produced by loading dirt into a form. This is then rammed with a pneumatic rammer until it pings. Once the first layer is made the forms are moved up and the process continued until the roof height is gained. It is a very coarse form of building, as shapes have to match the form however it produces very solid energy efficient houses.