IN: Inspiration

The Elephant House

The hide-like texture of the cement panels used in the construction of this house is what gave it its name and resulted in an interesting family home.


Fibre cement is a composite material made of sand, cement and cellulose fibres and is primarily used as roofing material for large industrial buildings. After being inspired by the material’s simplicity, durability and ease of installation, architect Sean Guess decided to construct his entire house out of the building material.

Elephant House


“I came across a corrugated fibre cement panel, historically used for roofing applications,” explains Guess. “I became enamored with this material. The scale was perfect; the natural manufactured colour beautiful without treatment; and inherently durable and low maintenance; and the installation seemingly straightforward. Up close it looks like elephant hide, hence the project name.”

PPC Imaginarium Elephant House

To construct the house, Guess opted for a simple building and assembly technique, which he chose for its low cost and timeless aesthetic. “The form of the house hints at the vernacular shapes of traditional buildings in this area, but this house is a far cry from an attempt at a ‘contemporary farmhouse’,” says Guess. “It reinforces my underlying desire to arrive at the essentials of a building,” he adds.

The house consists of three floors, with the kitchen and dining room located on the ground floor, and the living room placed on the east side of the home and separate from the other spaces. The first storey contains a master bedroom and two children’s rooms. To prevent the home from overheating, Guess built the southern facade 40cm thick, with windows that are recessed to admit less direct light. The overall result is a home that is beautiful, functional and cost effective.

“In my work I am continually attempting to pare down the objects, spaces and details to their essential elements while trying to maintain a certain sense of elegance and refinement to how materials are joined and intersect,” says Guess about his design process. “This refinement process drives me to limit the palette of materials for any given project, which I believe lends a certain amount of power to those materials.”

Images by Leonid Furmansky via Dezeen.


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