Lastly, there was the ubiquitous, long forgotten, corrugated iron roof vernacular of the Australian outback to which Murcutt turned immediately after his world tour to create the louvered Maria Short farmhouse at Crescent Head, overlooking the Maria River in 1974, his second house for the Short family in less than two years. In this canonical piece, he succeeded in combining the Semperian primitive hut of 1852 with the tectonic refinement of Mies’ Farnsworth House, along with a vertebrae approach to basic structural frame taken from Prouvé’s Maison Tropicale. It is just this somewhat unlikely conjunction that inaugurated a spectacular series of light-weight, single-storey houses, elevated clear of the ground, framed in either timber or steel, or in a mixture of both and invariably roofed and/or clad in corrugated metal. It is important to note that the linear room arrangement and the shallow depth derived from the need to maximize cross-ventilation for every room while simultaneously deploying the roof overhang and the back of the house, facing south, in such a way as to eclipse the noonday high summer sun and to admit at the same time in winter. Over the next fifteen years, he would build well over thirty houses in this unique “outback” manner, ringing the changes on every conceivable frame, truss, louver, vent, gutter, down-pipe, and roof profile, varying from mono- to double-pitch, to arcuated form before arriving at the metal-roofed but otherwise totally timber-clad, Marika-Alderton House, completed in East Arnheim Land in 1994 ...
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