Our Light Saw House represents a contemporary, design-based solution to sustainable architecture.
Built upon an existing double fronted Edwardian weatherboard, our clients sought a local architectural response to a property they had owned for some time, but not lived in for 15 years whilst overseas.
To accomplish the project requirements, the original house was retained, but retro-fit in such a way as to exceed current building standards. A compact extension to the rear addresses the need to bring light and warmth over the top of the existing house.
The volumes created allow the compact floor plan to feel generous and in proportion to the original house without overshadowing the south facing backyard. All new rooms are connected to the environment through views to the sky and adjacent landscaped gardens.
Recycled or recyclable materials have been utilised throughout. Existing external brick paving, paths and garden beds were salvaged and re-imagined internally to connect the garden to the wet areas. Key trees, retained and protected during construction, now thrive within a newly landscaped environment.
Builder: Philip Building Group
Landscape Architect: Eckersley Garden Architecture
Photographer: Derek Swalwell
Based upon the concepts of living in a garden and gathering under a roof, Project Nymph required the renovation and extension of a single fronted terrace house located in the Botanic Gardens precinct of inner Melbourne.
At the end of the hallway of the original terrace house the new kitchen and dining area open out to the full width of the site with slate paving and full height north facing glazing.
A large timber pergola with roof and seasonal shading extends over both the internal and external areas, connecting the paved garden with the kitchen and dining area as one large courtyard space. Smaller scale rooms have been added at the rear of the site, including wet areas, a lounge room and a first floor principal bedroom with ensuite and adjoining terrace.
The building features natural materials, both inside and out, bringing the qualities of the nearby gardens into the living areas of the house.
Builder: Dome Building Projects
Photographer: Derek Swalwell
Built on gently sloping land in suburban Melbourne, this contemporary and environmentally friendly home is designed to integrate seamlessly with the inherent natural beauty of the existing site.
Our approach favoured the use of natural materials, both inside and out, in order to create a relationship between the house and its surrounding environment. A series of inter-connecting rooms allow clear lines of vision throughout the house while also maximising the available light.
The application of passive solar design principles provides an abundance of warmth in winter and captures cooling breezes during summer. This light filled, split level home features the intelligent and sensitive application of sustainable design principles, conveying a feeling of openness, expansiveness and calm.
Nestled within the contours of the land, the amenities buildings on the Sandringham foreshore provide clear views of the beach and the surrounding coastal vegetation.
The structures are lightweight, reducing embodied energy and ground disturbance at the sensitive foreshore locations. The siting of the buildings improves both safety and accessibility, and allows for uninterrupted sight lines for natural surveillance.
The roof forms are designed to harvest rain water and accommodate solar panels for water and energy conservation. The buildings are also permeable, allowing filtered sunlight and bay breezes into the interior environment.
The crouched, bent forms are a deliberate departure from the rectilinear forms and gable roofs in the area, while materials are drawn from the local environment, including timber walkways and structural framing, steel cladding, and clear roofs with timber batten shading.
Builder: Cellstruct Building Group
Photographer: Jack Lovel
Our client contacted us with a request to design an extension to their existing property in order to accommodate the needs of a growing family. In this case, the small area of the site required a unique approach to achieve the required outcomes.
In response, we designed a flexible, multi-purpose studio that requires very little land. It includes two sleeping areas, a bathroom and a generous living space with the potential to be arranged into a living, kitchen and dining space.
We arranged the shape of the building to minimise amenity impacts to the neighbours, while also controlling sunlight and views from windows, thereby creating a sense of space without sacrificing privacy. As the building was positioned beside a laneway, we were also able to provide it with its own private entrance, separating it from the main home.
The clients can now cater for their immediate need for more space, while enjoying flexible choices for future use. Without impacting amenity they are now able to enjoy views of their own architecture across a shared garden space.
Builder: Built by JSB
Photographer: Jack Lovel
Our client, the Shire Council and the Yea Wetlands Trust, required a multi-purpose building that could serve the needs of tourism, education and the community.
The project brief required a versatile design approach that would allow the building to perform as both an information centre for visitors to Yea and an environmental education centre for students.
Situated on the edge of the wetlands, adjacent to the point at which the freeway becomes the main street of Yea, the building’s position allows it to act as a gateway to both the town and wetlands. The outside form of the building responds to the site, appearing as a natural extension of the wetlands without sacrificing visibility.
Externally, the building's broad, sweeping curve is easily visible from the freeway and represents a striking beacon for new visitors to the wetlands. The inner side of the building frames a natural amphitheatre, providing a sanctuary for visitors that is protected from the noise of the road and opens up to the wetlands beyond.
The ethos behind the conversion of this 1960's warehouse was to retain and re-use as much of the existing building as possible while still transforming it into a comfortable and energy efficient family home.
The philosophy of retaining and re-using materials was applied throughout the project. In addition to the building envelope being retained, many original elements were re-used including light fittings, sprinkler pipes, doors, cladding and roof sheeting.
The existing warehouse floor slab was also kept, partially due to restricted site access, but also for its inherent embodied energy.
The addition of a north-facing courtyard provides a generous amount of light and heat in winter in an otherwise poorly oriented building. Cross ventilation is achieved through new high level louvres. Mezzanine rooms float within the original volume and structure of the warehouse. A new raised deck links the living areas with the courtyard.
By inserting a garden and light into an existing warehouse we have created an warm and liveable family home.
A rear addition to an existing double fronted period home in West Brunswick, The Nest consists of a new open plan living area and a mezzanine.
The client’s brief specified that the kitchen should be the focal point of the house with all family rooms interacting with this area. The solution came in the form of a nest-like mezzanine studio that floats above the living area. Underneath the canopy of a dramatic, north-facing raked roof, the mezzanine facilitates interaction between each room in the house while still allowing separation of spaces for privacy, acoustics or thermal comfort if required.
The result is a compact, interwoven house that respects its surrounding environment whilst enhancing the passive solar performance of both the old and new sections of house and interaction with outdoor spaces at the rear.
Located on the Bellarine Peninsula, this residential development was designed to suit two “empty nesters” whose changing lifestyle required them to downsize their living arrangements.
One of the key aims of the project was to allow the client to maintain family connections through multi-generational living. Additionally, flexibility was required to allow for future sub-division.
We took a contemporary and refined interpretation to the concept of the beach shack, using an exposed timber structure and timber lining boards to provide for a relaxed lifestyle and greater sense of the natural environment. Consisting of two dwellings set on a single site, the property can be shared to allow for family gatherings. Individually, the planning arrangement provides for private living.
An abundance of natural light + warmth is filtered deep into the building through the use of north facing highlight windows, large volumes and voids from ground floor to first.
The result is two high performance dwellings that provide our clients with a home for the life of the family.
The Autonomous House exemplifies our commitment to environmentally sound and eco-friendly design principles. We proposed a house that could harvest its own power and water and treat its own waste on site in response to the client’s values and the reality of difficult access to services.
On this rural property, the house was positioned where a large gumtree had fallen, allowing north light to penetrate into an otherwise dense and dark canopy. By minimising vegetation removal we maintained privacy in this bush setting.
The small footprint of the building is designed to weave between the trees along a well-worn wallaby track. All habitable rooms have access to articulated north facing windows for capturing light and heat as well as southern windows for free flowing cross ventilation.
The result is a house that, as its name indicates, is completely self-sustaining.
Zen Architects were engaged in the architect-led design of a new, state-of-the-art EcoCentre – a community centre, designed to promote sustainable building and gardening practices – located within the St Kilda Botanical Gardens.
The design acknowledges the traditional owners of the land, the heritage nature of the site, the existing streetscape and the local community and culture. It provides a contemporary, innovative facility with high-level amenity and the flexibility to meet future demand.
The building is set back from the corner of the site to provide a north facing productive garden that connects with the street and an outdoor gathering space around a Willow Myrtle tree. Internal spaces are accommodated under a soaring louvred roof and arranged around a north facing wintergarden with seasonal open-ability that works to warm and cool the other parts of the building.
The end result is a design that showcases innovative passive solar design, natural ventilation, energy and water conservation, eco-friendly materials and technologies, and promotes public awareness of sustainable building and garden design practices.
Located on a narrow site in Melbourne, the North Carlton Green House was inspired by our client’s connection with landscape and represents the innovative use of sustainable design principles.
We offset the house from the north boundary and created a courtyard with north facing windows. Deciduous planting provides shade in summer, with additional plants integrated throughout the site to improve the indoor air quality. Perched above the surrounding rooftops and nestled in the tree canopies, a roof garden acts as an oasis from the urban environment.
Passive heating is provided by a two storey north facing void that allows sun to penetrate deep into the house, heating the thermal mass of exposed concrete floor and ceiling. Passive cooling is provided by windows located to catch breezes cooled by the courtyard plants and pond, while a two storey void facilitates natural heat removal through stack effect.
The end result is a living, breathing, sustainable space that is a pleasure to inhabit.
Updates coming soon...
Our client, a boutique graphic design and publishing company located in Carlton, sought to re-purpose an existing building for their new offices. The contemporary design provides an enjoyable and creative working environment while remaining sensitive to the original structure.
We began by stripping the building back to its core elements. The building’s façade was transformed from impermeable fixed glass to open-able glass louvres, allowing natural ventilation with individual occupant control. The street-facing façade was also fitted with an external adjustable sun shade to control solar exposure on a daily and seasonal basis.
The ground floor entry was rejuvenated and made wheelchair accessible while the street edge was revitalised with landscaped features including warm timber and lush gardens. A new floor, containing a kitchen and breakout spaces, meeting rooms and an outdoor rooftop garden, was added to increase amenity.
In order to provide for growth, we implemented improved internal layouts that resulted in both spatial efficiency and flexibility for future changes and expansion.
Situated at the entrance to the Mullum Creek community, this residence is sited on a large, 2500m² block which features a significant slope from front to back and an intermittent water course through the middle of the site.
We took the approach of positioning all accommodation on a single elevated level which provides ample views of the surrounding landscape and topography. The ground floor entrance and workshop are built around the water course and maintain transparency through the site.
Predominantly lightweight in construction, thermal mass is utilised only as required and provides a low embodied energy approach that compliments the energy efficient 7.5 star passive solar design.
Materials are contemporary, sustainably sourced, recyclable and low maintenance, reflecting the palette of the native landscape. The built form reveals itself as you enter the community culminating with the cantilevered east facing balcony which frames the nature reserve and hills beyond.
Located in a marina development on the Mornington Peninsular, the site presents with a number of constraints: west facing site with views to the water, large slope from the street level and poor founding soils.
The first floor bedrooms cantilever and suspend above the ground floor living via expressed steel truss frames. This results in a framing of the views and a reduced exposure to the harsh westerly aspect. The living spaces below form a solid, grounded base. Double height, north facing glazing floods the living areas with winter sun and heat gain is absorbed by mass materials and dark colours.
The main bedroom and second living room are accommodated in a two storey volume at the south end which is set apart from the rest of the house. The east facing first floor garage-cum-gallery has translucent walls allowing morning light into the house and the gallery to glow at night.
An exercise in cradle-to-cradle recycling, the Zen House aims to create a contemporary family home that is imbued with the spirit of the existing site.
The pre-existing 1970’s beach house was carefully dismantled to allow reassembly within the context of the new building. The existing garden was retained and increased in size by reducing the new building’s footprint. In turn, this allowed for a productive garden to thrive on the northern façade, helping to control sun and wind and making the house feel more comfortable and connected to the ground.
The radially sawn timber fins on the east façade angle variably, animating the façade in a wave-like manner as the viewer approaches the building. This façade also serves to protect the southern end of the upper floor decks from cold south-easterly breezes while opening out to the sun and views at the northern end.
These timber fins are visible both inside and out, which ties the building together reinforcing the feelings of shelter and connection to the natural world.
A contemporary extension to an existing residence, the purpose of the Tree View house was to bring a new degree of comfort, functionality and sustainability to a family home.
The existing house was preserved for many reasons: budget, the existing streetscape and the ethos of recycling. The contemporary addition responds to naturally occurring site features including solar access, breezes and tree views.
The addition is pushed back from the northern boundary to improve solar access to living spaces and decks. The split roof form is generated by the opposing forces that rake the roof north towards solar gain and neighbouring treetop views, while also lifting it to the south towards southerly breezes and an existing maple tree.
The southern garden, previously disconnected from the house was reimagined and transformed into the focal point, creating a relationship between the house and its surrounding environment.