Apprenticed by the elements, Chris Clarke’s design philosophy has been carved by the forces of nature. Clarke humbly found beauty in asymmetry, imperfection, and beheld the innovation missing from the built environment.
A crusader of sustainable building, Chris Clarke, Director, SWALE Developments, built his dream home in the small town of Callignee Victoria, set amongst the bushland he so adored. Then came the 2009 Black Saturday bush fires. Amongst the devastating loss of the inferno, 57 of the 61 homes in the village of Callignee were destroyed and 12 members of the community lost their lives. When it came time to rebuild his sustainable house, Clarke set about curating what materials could be salvaged from the original project as a reminder of nature’s fierce might. Each piece bears the scars of its history and makes Callignee II a rich tapestry of textures, a delicate blend of the outdoors, inside.
Surrounded by the destruction and bearing witness to the consuming process of rebuilding so many properties at once, Clarke saw the possibility for a more economical and sustainable approach for others. He began work with renewed fervour on a system for modular homes that would make great design available to everyday Australians without the costs and environmental impact of the traditional home.
Having refined the designs, SWALE (Sustainable Working And Living Environments) now offers innovative modular homes. Informed by an ancient Asian aesthetic philosophy, each one beautifully honours its connection to sustainability, health and the environment. In contrast to the clinical sterility of modernist design, Clarke’s modular homes are made from non-toxic and often reclaimed materials. “We throw all pretentious aspects out the window and work on bringing back warmth and cute while being very conscious not to build the cost that ruins the freedom,” Clarke says.
Changing the perception of modular homes remains one of the greatest challenges for SWALE. Clarke approached me to produce renders to help convey the beauty of their innovative approach. “The container or modular industry is full of images but lacks integrity or a real presence.The initial images or renders received a great response,” says Clarke of the 3D process.
Always pushing design, Clarke is optimistic about the future of modular homes enhancing the experience of the built environment. “Our next step is to be able to prove our ‘new modularization of every element’ is completely interchangeable therefore allowing versatility for change, growth and efficiency along with serious longevity and sustainable new or end life. I would welcome the opportunity to work with you again.”
3D Visualisation can help innovative ideas gain traction. Not only can great renders demonstrate a great design, but when presented in context, can make the idea believable and possible, particularly for prototypes. In this case, great visuals played a vital role in overcoming perceptions to reposition modular homes in the minds of customers as beautiful and viable alternatives to traditional house design.
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