A Blue Mountains-based building designer is leading the way to the construction of bushfire-resistant homes across the region.
TAFE NSW graduate Miranda Corkin defended her self-built straw bale home from the devastating bushfires earlier this year and is encouraging home builders to consider a sustainable alternative to traditional building methods.
Ms Corkin started designing her home before she knew anything about building design, taking three years to plan, and then two years to build it. The experience led her to change career direction and enrol in an online Diploma of Building Design at TAFE NSW and launched her own company, MKC Building Design.
Most of her local projects are in high bushfire risk areas, where research, resources, and shared knowledge about building for bushfire safety have grown enormously. Ms Corkin said that straw bale houses are fire-resistant due to the construction process, which reduces oxygen within the wall cavity.
“I have been putting my practical skills and work experience into practice by using tactile materials like timber, cob and clay render to give an extra earthy sensation to buildings while remaining functional and taking clients’ lifestyles, budgets and likes and dislikes into account,” she said.
“Buildings need to be carefully sited in asset protection zones, with appropriate rooflines and gutter protection, which are critical to fire safety.”
During the height of the bushfire crisis, she spent 12 hours with firefighting crews to defend and save her house and home office and attributes her home still standing to it being situated in an asset protection zone and wind direction.
Ms Corkin said that sustainable and natural building design is a growing industry, which has influenced many of her designs.
Preliminary economic modelling undertaken by the CRC for Low Carbon Living and ASBEC has found that accelerating Australia’s transition to sustainable housing would deliver more than half a billion dollars of extra investment in the construction industry by 2030 and create over 7,000 new jobs.
TAFE Digital Built Environment Teacher, William Hendricks said that Miranda is ahead of the game as employment growth in the industry is expected to rise by nearly 20% over the course of the next five years.
“I often reference Miranda’s designs in my sustainable building lessons, with particular relevance to solar passive energy efficiencies, the use of environment-friendly natural materials for heating, cooling and water usage functionality, and resultant cost-savings.”
Ms Corkin is also a proud winner of the Building Designers Association of Australia national design award for Sustainable Residential Project. Without doubt her best project to date has been building her own home, which was a labour of love, sweat, and tears.
Visit https://www.tafensw.edu.au/digital to explore the range of Semester 2 online study options at TAFE NSW.
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