The tragic images from devastating wild fires in California serve as a chilling reminder that the bushfire season is looming fast in Australia.
Australia’s growing towns and cities are encroaching areas most at risk of fires and Archicentre Australia says it is important that precautions be taken to minimise the threat.
The national architect’s advisory service also maintains that these risks can be minimised through sound architectural design principles.
“The onset of warmer weather and the abundance of drying vegetation present a risk to many residents, particularly those close to bushland or open paddocks,” says Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev.
“Protection from bushfires for people and property has become a significant issue and legislation is in place in most states to regulate construction in designated bushfire-prone areas.
“Engaging with an architect when planning a new home or additions to an existing residence ensures that sound design principles are incorporated to minimise the bushfire risk.
“This means that the home can appropriately respond to the environment.”
He says before embarking on any building project, professional advice should be sought to ensure that an appropriately bushfire resistant design is put in place.
“Houses should be sited to minimise the risk – this may mean keeping away from steep hillsides where the intensity of the fire can double for each 10 degrees of slope, or ensuring enough cleared land is available between the house and the bush.
“The extent of required cleared land varies according to the type of vegetation in proximity to the proposed dwelling. Where the available building area is limited, design issues for bushfire-prone areas become paramount and expert advice is required,” he says.
All bushfire design principles seek to protect the home from burning debris.
Peter Georgiev says, “The key differences between bushfire design and traditional architectural design are that bushfire design uses a plan with a simple roofline, a minimum of angles and a range of fire-resistant alternative construction materials.
“Good design for bushfire-prone areas seeks to protect the house and its occupants from the five major dangers – wind, radiant heat, direct flame, ember attack and smoke.
“Principles such as simple rooflines, uncomplicated layouts, window protection, inbuilt water storage, fire-resistant materials (where necessary) and sprinkler systems can be integrated to achieve good protection as well as good design,” he adds.
As a useful add-on, clever choices of plant species and landscape design can substantially enhance this defensive approach while setting up a responsive site plan.
Archicentre Australia has prepared a Bushfire Design Guide, which can be viewed here
For more information go to www.archicentreaustralia.com.au
This media release has been written and distributed by:
Peter Georgiev, Director
Level 1, 9 Strathalbyn Street,
Kew East, VICTORIA, 3102
Phone: 1300 13 45 13 | 03 9859 9950