Tuesday, February 10, 2009

RENOVATION FIX: bushfire architect talks about his new beliefs

Lindsay Johnston is an architect famous for creating bushfire-proof houses, complete with "safe haven rooms" where occupants can sit out a fire safely, even if all is bursting into flames around them.
But after the devastation of the Victorian bushfires - where 750 houses burnt down and more than 130 people have tragically died - Johnston says he is not so sure there is such a thing as a fireproof house.
"After seeing what's happened in Victoria, it looks just like a war zone. The only thing I think could withstand that sort of disaster is a concrete bunker," he says.
Johnston's worked on creating homes that can withstand the first 15 minutes of a bushfire, suggesting they can be created by:
* building slab on ground
* using non-combustible materials like concrete and steel
* creating metal shutters to stop windows breaking
* sealing the roof of all air gaps.
"I think this disaster casts doubt on all my beliefs," he says.
"Everyone including the CSIRO and councils in bushfire prone areas are seeing a disaster beyond the scale we have ever experienced and I'm sure lots of things will be re-assessed."

Pictures: Rivertime

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