The emphasis for this renovation was on sustainability.

Specifically, our clients wanted to pursue the voluntary European building standard known as ‘Passive House’ (PassivHaus), which provides a comfortable internal environment while reducing household energy use by up to 90 per cent. The clients were also looking for a functional retrofit of their existing home, a converted two-storey warehouse in Melbourne’s inner-west. This, combined with the requirements of the Passive House standard, required completely re-establishing the existing internal structure using quality energy solutions and lasting materials.

The finished project earned in a 7.1 Star rating under the Australian NATHERS energy efficiency rating tool. Even though some agreed compromises meant we missed out on gaining official PassivHaus accreditation, the result was a remarkable example of the very best of sustainability and low energy consumption.

The crucial point is that all thermal energy inside the home must be retained for as long as possible. In order to achieve this, air-tightness, triple glazed glass, thermal bridging and two different types of insulation became the jigsaw pieces of our architectural puzzle. In the words of Verity Campbell of Sanctuary magazine, this meant ‘an airtight layer on the inside’ and ‘a whole-building wrap-around barrier with bulk insulation and a weather-protection layer’.

Inside, our interior design pays homage to the building’s warehouse heritage with the use of exposed steel beams, natural timbers and metal finishes throughout. The ground floor and the first floor function as two different spaces. The ground floor is a series of cleverly separated spaces: bedrooms, a study, bathroom and laundry together. Upstairs, the house opens up to create a grand, expansive living area enjoying city views, daylight and outdoor living.

Once decorated with the owners’ eclectic collection of books and furniture, the home struck a warm equilibrium between function and industrial aesthetics – a testament to the gezellig ideal.

The project was shortlisted for the 2016 AIA Victorian Chapter Architecture Awards in two categories – Additions and Alterations, and Sustainability.

Low Energy House

  • Year: 2017
  • Location: West Melbourne
  • Builder: PM&R Construction

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