Top Australian architect Malcolm Carver has created a superb tree house for himself that is constructed entirely from glass to make the most of some extraordinary views across the ocean. And in order to maintain those views and the external appearance of this extraordinary building, Carver specified the world’s first true self-cleaning glass - Pilkington Activ™ - to minimise the cleaning regime and keep the structure in pristine condition.
Situated at MacMasters Beach on the North Central Coast of New South Wales the house is perched on stilts amongst eucalyptus trees, metres above the steeply sloping ground level, a fabulous location but one that would otherwise multiply the cleaning problems. Carver described the performance of the glass as ‘phenomenal’: “We have never had to clean it even though we are right by the ocean with its salt-laden winds and mist,” he said. “There is also the debris and sap falling from the surrounding eucalypts, along with bird droppings and other soiling, but the first rain shower along strips it all as clean as a whistle - it always looks as if the window cleaners have just left!”
With a total floor area of 163m², the home comprises a gallery that connects the boardwalk at the entrance to four double bedrooms and two bathrooms. A glazed boxed staircase leads to the upper living level. Roller blinds are provided for every window other than the stairwell and from the access road below; views of the house are filtered through the trees and project up towards the ceilings providing occupants a surprising level of privacy. With the forest canopy for shade and flexibility of sliding doors/windows for cross ventilation, the house is simple to cool in the warmer months. A slow combustion fire will be installed for winter. "A small price," adds Carver, "for the benefits of so much glass and so little structure."
“I was sceptical that it would clean itself anything like the technicians said, but it really does work,” Malcolm Carver said. “There’s been no need to clean the windows since we moved in. They are still as clean as the day they were delivered. The last thing we wanted was a chronic commitment to painting, repairs and glass cleaning — in this area the house is peerless. In addition to its low maintenance advantages, Pilkington Activ™ provides improved clarity, daylight quality and has fantastic reflectivity.”
Malcolm Carver founded the North Sydney-based architectural practice of Scott Carver Pty Ltd in 1986 with Stuart Scott since when the company has gone on to win several major commissions within Australia and overseas, and a number of awards. He is an Associate Member of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, and a Member of the Royal British Institute of Architects.
Pilkington Activ™ uses a permanent coating that uses ultraviolet (UV) radiation in natural light to break down organic dirt, with the second property of the coating causing water to sheet rather than bead on the surface of the glass, to wash way any soiling and leave the glass streak-free.