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Sanctuary magazine issue 5 - Thornbury, Melbourne sustainable house profile

Sanctuary magazine issue 5 - Thornbury, Melbourne sustainable house profile

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Published by Sanctuary Magazine
Sustainable house profile from www.sanctuarymagazine.org.au, Australia's only magazine dedicated to sustainable house design.
Sustainable house profile from www.sanctuarymagazine.org.au, Australia's only magazine dedicated to sustainable house design.

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Published by: Sanctuary Magazine on Sep 09, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 A Melbourne CalifornianBungalow is given a contemporarysustainable makeover
hen Nash and Meaghan Popp bought aCalifornian Bungalow in the inner Melbournesuburb of Thornbury in 2001, it was a typicalrenovator’s delight. “It was so dark in here, you hadto turn the lights on even in the middle of the day,”Meaghan remembers. “There were holes in theoor and aking plaster and lathe on the walls.” In2004, the Popps wanted to build an environmentallysustainable extension to increase the building’slight and reduce its operational energy use. Theyencountered more difculties than they hadanticipated.“You must remember that four years ago, tobuild sustainably was still a bit freaky,” recallsSteffen Welsch, a local architect who the Poppscontacted after they had seen his advert in the localnewspaper. “There has been a signicant shift inthe past four years, but at the time we faced manyhurdles and expenses due to the lack of experienceand resistance to new ideas among builders,suppliers, installers and so forth.”Steffen’s launching pad for planning theextension was to maximise light by capturing asmuch available sunlight as possible. The challengewas that the backyard faced south (in other words,received little direct sunlight) yet this was where theextension had to go. To overcome this, Steffen builtan external courtyard between the existing houseand the new extension. Thanks to its northernorientation, the courtyard receives sunlight allday, which in turn enters the living area (in theextension) through double-glazed windows. Thekitchen, which links the old house to the extension,has a lower ceiling than the adjoining dining room.
A row of north-facing windows lls the wall spacebetween the two ceilings and these admit light intothe dining room even during the winter monthswhen the sun is lower in the sky.
In addition to a horizontal extension, thePopps built a second storey. This created freshopportunities to reduce the building’s operationalenergy use. Windows were put in at strategic
bed 1bed 2bathroomlaundrypantry
         k         i        t      c         h      e      n
diningsummer decklivingwinter deckguest / bed 3study / retreat
         b      a         l      c      o      n      y
Ground levelUpper level
The rammed earthwalls not onlyprovide thermalmass in the homebut are a strongaesthetic eature o the house’s interior.
... a good-looking building that doesn’t necessarily identify itself as asustainable building, because it doesn’t look low or hi-tech; it just looks good
The stairwell actsas a heat shat as the warm air romdownstairs is drawnup and can escape through the openupstairs windows.
locations in the stairwell and upstairs to facilitatepassive cooling: when nighttime creates coolerair currents,
the stairwell acts as a heat shaft bydrawing warm air from downstairs to upstairs,where the warm air can escape through theopen windows.
 As a consequence of building a second storey,the Popps made an aesthetic decision to installslanted loft-style ceilings in the upstairs rooms.These turned out to have a practical benetbecause the north-facing roof is the perfect spot tomount solar photovoltaic panels. Consequently, theroof was built at a pitch to maximise solar accessfor the panels. Nash says that merely having theone-kilowatt solar system has helped to makethe family more conscious of, and conservative in,their energy consumption. “Even our two year oldson, Xavier, turns the lights off when he leaves theroom!”Steffen observes that the house is “a good-lookingbuilding that doesn’t necessarily identify itself as asustainable building, because it doesn’t look lowor hi-tech; it just looks good.” Perhaps no featureof the house illustrates this more vividly than thefacade of the upstairs extension. Slender, eleganttimber battens run horizontally along the exteriorof the north-facing walls, which face the street. Thedistance between each slat has been specicallygauged in order to let winter sun through (to warmthe walls) and to keep summer sun out (to keepthe walls cool). The effect is visually arresting and,simple as it is, puts a contemporary spin on thisCalifornian Bungalow while simultaneously helpingto regulate the internal temperature upstairs.Rammed earth was used for the extension’scentral wall as well as the east-and west-facingexternal walls. Rammed earth has a high thermalmass, meaning it holds heat well, only releasingit when the surrounding temperature drops. Thewalls have been insulated on the outside to improvetheir insulation value and aside from its excellentthermal mass, the rammed earth is a strong

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