Salmon House revels in its concrete form

Architect Feras Raffoul has a passion for concrete - one that's reflected in his latest project, the Salmon House.

Situated in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon, the home encapsulates his minimalistic approach to both design and materials; in this example, characterised by the use of a simple palette of predominantly concrete and glass. In fact, the concrete/glass combination accounts for about 95 per cent of the materials used on the project. 

From the street, the house presents as predominantly concrete in form. The rear elevation, however, features a wall of floor-to-top of roof glass over one and half levels, abutting a single-level, glass-walled kitchen/living pavilion that opens onto a concrete-paved alfresco and pool area.

The pool is framed on the opposite side by an off-form concrete wall that doubles as boundary fencing. 

Throughout the home the rawness of the concrete is exposed and celebrated in a variety of forms and applications, including insitu polished concrete floors and precast walls. 

Raffoul is a particular fan of using precast concrete panels for both external and internal walling, citing it as an efficient and economical approach to building that produces an incredibly durable and reliable result.

"There's a bit of work to be done up front, but once you stand up your (precast) walls and infill your slab floors, you don't need sand, cement, scaffolding, stud walls - any of that," he says.

"When you reach lock-up you're almost at 80 per cent of the build, whereas on projects using timber or steel stud walls you're at best 40 percent."

At A Glance...

Architect: FGR Architects
Images: Peter Bennetts
Builder: AMPM Projects; and Steve & Ainsley Tilovski

Main Concrete Elements:

  • Concrete Basement Slab
  • Board Piers
  • Precast Walls
  • Suspended Concrete Ground Floor Slab
  • Precast Concrete Walls on Ground Floor
  • Precast Boundary Fences
  • Concrete Driveway
  • Internal Concrete Finished Floor (Infilled screed over structural slab)
  • External Concrete Paving
  • Concrete Pool/Pond

Main Concrete Benefits:

  • Efficiency of Construction
  • Durability of Forms and Finishes
  • Thermal Performance
  • Aesthetics
Raffoul also embraces the thermally efficient qualities of concrete. He used a Thermomass insulated concrete panel for the external walls, which combined with the inherent thermal mass of the concrete ground slab and suspended floors, helps maintain an even temperature internally. In fact, he described the thermal performance of the home as 'remarkable'.

Despite the extensive use of raw concrete finishes inside, Raffoul maintains the soft grey tones of the material give the internal spaces a natural and genuine warmth. 

"People think that because it's concrete it must harsh and cold, but in reality it's quite the opposite," he says.