The Southwood home is a compact house for a client who runs a business dealing in ethically sourced homewares. Integral to the client’s belief was the use of environmentally responsible materials that were locally produced, sustainably sourced, recycled or organic. This ethos was followed through in the specification for the house, making it a healthy, environmentally responsible building.
Environmentally responsible materials employed in the project include recycled bricks, Earthwool insulation from recycled glass, thermal mass in the concrete slab, locally sourced timbers and triple glazed windows. All materials used were low VOC, and the use of particleboard and chipboard was avoided completely.
Spatially, the house is modestly sized (115m² floor area within an 85m² footprint) however, is efficient enough to house a family of six. The side entry eliminated the need for corridors. The plan caters for long term flexibility.
The laundry and store room act as the engine room of the house, containing the hot water system; waste heat generated here is used to warm the house. Similarly, low tech passive design techniques were employed wherever possible: the house is oriented north for passive solar gain; and the living rooms on the first floor benefit from unobstructed solar gain. Summer heat loads are controlled by adjustable shade sails made from recycled ship sail canvas.
Natural ventilation is facilitated through the use of mechanically operable clerestory windows above the central stair void drawing air up through the house and the multiple small secure operable windows at ground level.
The client chose not to use natural gas in the belief that all energy powering the house was theoretically solar, from the roof mounted photovoltaics and the 100% green power sourced from the energy provider. Restraint is exercised in the fit-out as rooms are only allowed one light and one power point each.
The result is an incredibly efficient building that benefits aesthetically from the environmentally responsible history of the materials as well as their performance.