written by:
September 25, 2015
Along with water, fire is architecture's oldest foe. While infernos no longer wipe out entire cities, brush fires still pose a devastating threat to remote cabins in dry climates. Building with fire-resistant materials can safeguard your home and bring down home insurance rates.
Side View of the Lookout House in Tasmania

This inventive Tasmanian abode maximizes views of the landscape but constructing a largely timber house in a bush fire-prone setting wasn’t easy. “We had to negotiate with the council and building surveyor,” architect Nathan Crump explains. To solve the challenge, he designed an outer, protective skin for the home that’s clad with metal; it pushes beyond the building envelope to provide covering for outdoor living spaces. The inset walls are lined with local shiplap Celery Top Pine. 

 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in One-of-a-Kind Glass Facade Gives Tasmanian House Unforgettable Views
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House in the Washington mountains with a separate sauna room

Nestled in a subalpine meadow valley in Washington, the Ranchero House is surrounded by a beautiful but demanding landscape. A Seattle family had frequented the area for years, making the three hour drive into the Okanogan National Forest for cross-country skiing and hiking. They asked Tim Hammer of CAST architecture, also based in Seattle, to design a structure that could survive forest fires, five feet of snow pack, house guests (and their ski gear), all while requiring minimum maintenance and energy usage. The exterior features a concrete skirt that’s impermeable to snow pack moisture and its weathering steel panels are resistant to brush fires.

Originally appeared in The Ranchero
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modern fire resistant green boulder cor-ten steel native grasses

A natural disaster cleared a property in the Colorado mountains, giving an architect and her family a blank slate on which to build their green dream home. The fire-resistant structure is clad in corrugated Cor-Ten steel that has been left to rust for easy maintenance. Instead of fussy landscaping, the family spread seed for native grasses and wildflowers that they let fill in naturally.

 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in A Green Home Emerges After a Fire
3 / 5
modern house with dark wood facade

Architect Shane Blue crafted this modern home on a remote plot of land in southeastern Australia. The house's location on a fire-prone site on the edge of a wooded area posed a challenge for Blue. He used a mix of steel and fire-resistant timber to construct the residence. Another challenge was to "crop out" the neighboring houses so Blue oriented the structure so that it opens to its own garden and views of the forest.

 

Originally appeared in A Modern House in Elizabeth Beach, Australia
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Doyle House, Ridgway, Colorado

A couple's investment of sweat equity paid dividends in a mountainside house in southwestern Colorado. The exterior is constructed of corrugated steel and fiber-cement siding by Hardie Boad. The use of these fire-retardant materials gave the couple a break on the insurance premiums that they pay to live in this area of Colorado's San Juan Mountains, where wildfires have been known to break out.

The corrugated steel that was chosen for the exterior was designed to weather over time. A rust-hued patina is already taking hold. Photo by Barry B. Doyle.

 

Originally appeared in Mountaintop Modern
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Side View of the Lookout House in Tasmania

This inventive Tasmanian abode maximizes views of the landscape but constructing a largely timber house in a bush fire-prone setting wasn’t easy. “We had to negotiate with the council and building surveyor,” architect Nathan Crump explains. To solve the challenge, he designed an outer, protective skin for the home that’s clad with metal; it pushes beyond the building envelope to provide covering for outdoor living spaces. The inset walls are lined with local shiplap Celery Top Pine. 

 

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