Mr Stutchbury said Mr Borun’s intellect and demands made the company go above and beyond what it had done before.
Other entries for the new house of the year included requirements for architects to grant access to rare long-nosed bandicoots through a property, and requests to maximize a special view and make the houses pass-proof. bush fires and sustainable. The owner of a home on the south coast of NSW has asked for a snake-proof garden.
Mr. Borun’s mandate to the architect was to “take him on a journey that [he] would not have taken alone ”.
Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1999, Mr. Borun broke his ankle when he tripped on a step he could not feel. This incident resulted in the amputation of his heel. Further shocks and beatings resulted in injuries to the fingers and toes. (An enthusiastic cook, Mr. Borun now wears chain mail gloves).
Mr. Borun said that “any lump on the feet of a diabetic can be fatal.” The reduced blood flow to the limbs means that many people with diabetes have neuropathy and cannot experience extremity injuries.
None of the houses that Mr. Borun had seen in the past were really accessible. Even the best had at least one step for termite, mold, and water protection.
“The only rule I won’t break is that no step can exceed 10mm, so I can go in and out without thinking.” It is the tolerance of his wheelchair.
The polymath’s long curriculum vitae includes undergraduate degrees in architecture, a triple major in engineering (mechanical, nuclear and aerospace) and a master’s degree in astronomy. He describes himself as a “post modern-techno romantic”. Mr. Borun is also an amateur rocket hobbyist and designs them in the hangar, building them using 3D printers.
He was inspired by a 19th century ammunition bunker he saw once in Romania built of rough “brick” with arches.
“He jumped at me, it was massive, rooted and solid and buried in the earth.”
He wanted it to be completely off the grid, and was also particular about the pallet: rough bricks, concrete, wood and brass.
Night Sky was the most comfortable house he had known in his 67 years.
“Now you have to get me out of the house with a crowbar,” Mr. Borun said. “The high ceiling never interferes with my vision. It looks more like a medieval castle than a detached house.
Mr. Stutchbury designed the house so that Mr. Borun could go from his car to anywhere in his house with just one turn of the wheelchair. The bedrooms have been designed from a long and wide hallway with sliding doors.
“I think it’s a very good model of accessible housing,” Stutchbury said.
Mr Stutchbury said Night Sky also marks a return to the heart of architecture. It was the “original raw house” where function, light and beauty come first and decoration and additions come later.
“With a small house like this, you can spend a lot of time on architectural precision rather than making the faucets.”
Mr Borun said that when he started working with architects more than four years ago, he knew his mobility was coming to an end.
“There was no point in building a house at the moment. I was building a house for the rest of my life.
The author is a lay juror of the jury that decides on the Australian Institute of Architects’ NSW Award for new housing. The winners will be announced in July.
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