Shoalhaven House

In the aftermath of the catastrophic Black Summer fires, which consumed 5.5 million hectares across New South Wales, a Shoalhaven homeowner sought to rebuild quickly to optimise the aspect, achieve exceptional thermal performance and meet stringent BAL requirements, without compromising quality or design freedom.

This case study explores the rebuild and highlights the innovative use of Bushfire Safe Paarhammer windows and doors to create a resilient, highly energy efficient, functional, and aesthetically pleasing dwelling.

Nick Carr, managing director of boutique housing provider Intermode, drove to the site with the homeowner: “The devastation was confronting – the project had so much emotion attached to it.”

Carr says their client wanted to rebuild where their home had formerly stood—an elbow of the Kangaroo River with 180-degree views down both sides. “Timing, architectural design, innovation, and cost were important to him.” Intermode’s design methodology, using a 1.2-metre grid for design elements, reduces design and construction timeframes and engages clients.

The resulting dwelling uses a T-shape configuration with two pavilions linked by a breezeway. It features high performance Paarhammer operable double glazed lift-slide sliding doors and tilt & turn windows for natural ventilation. The design cleverly integrates the landscape into its essence while choreographing private and shared experiences.

A notable aspect of its materiality is the client’s choice of Shou Sugi Ban charred timber cladding, a cheeky nod to the site’s ordeal and a practical measure. Its dark tones recede in the rural landscape, offering aesthetic beauty while reducing maintenance and flammability.

The home’s design uses high performance glazing extensively, featured in all windows and doors to optimise thermal performance and internal comfort, and to also enhance connections with the garden and river views.

Carr says high performance Low-E glazing, and window and door selections were critical to achieving the energy efficiency target and BASIX requirements and satisfy the BAL rating. “You are very exposed on this site. We needed high-quality systems that would withstand the elements and the test of time.”

In searching for a timber solution to match the Shou Sugi Ban and avoid window shutters, Intermode discovered Paarhammer’s Bushfire Safe timber window and door systems.

“We used Paarhammer’s Bushfire Safe Range to manage the threat posed by the location.”

Paarhammer’s commitment to quality is evident with their product innovation and technology, and performance specifications achieved with their product range. The Bush Fire Safe windows and doors are made from FSC® certified Manilkara Bidentata hardwood, and for this project contain Viridian PyroGuard40™ performance glazing, within a double glazed, argon-filled system for enhanced energy efficiency and fire safety. German hardware, seals, and multi-point locking systems also ensure durability and security. At the same time, compliance with Australian fire safety and energy efficiency standards underscores Paarhammer’s dedication to providing solutions that meet the highest safety and sustainability standards.

The versatile multi-function tilt & turn windows are operated via the handle: tilt inwards at the top for child-proof ventilation; turn and fully open for easy cleaning. This system is extremely energy efficient, draught-proof and reduces external sound; it also features multi-point locking. The sophisticated lift-slide sliding doors lift up first – as the name implies – before sliding wide open. This feature allows the doors to seal perfectly when closed, and together with double layers of seals providing the highest energy efficiency, are airtight and draft free.

Lime Building, which specialises in complex architectural builds on NSW’s South Coast, built the home. Builder Joel Stewart says that with the river wrapping around the exposed site, the house required high-quality windows aesthetically and functionally.

“The quality of the Paarhammer windows and doors is excellent, as is their communication and coordination. Their interstate location was not an issue.”

The rebuilding of this Shoalhaven home is a compelling narrative of loss, resilience, and innovation. It showcases how thoughtful design, suitable materials, and collaborative expertise can create a space that is both a personal haven and a benchmark for sustainable and fire-resistant construction.

Design: Intermode

Builder: Lime Building Group

Photography: Tom Ferguson