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Prebuilt Merricks

Designer Prebuilt
Millennium House
Location Merricks, VIC
Project type Prefabricated house
Cost $330,000

Photography John Gollings

Sustainable Keeping it simple
By Jenny Brown

Water Saving
•B iolytix waste water system (
Comprises underground greywater
tank using a combination of charcoal
filters, netting, microbes and worms
to treat water. Piped to garden.

Passive Heating & Cooling

• CSR Bradford R4 Glasswool ceiling batts,
R2 wall batts, Aircell R1.5 underfloor insulation

• Shutters and
pergola for shade

• Plantation silvertop
ash and Carter Holt
Harvey Shadowclad
external cladding
• Plantation pine framing

• Recycled blackbutt flooring

• 4mm toughened double-glazed windows

• CFL and LED

Active Heating
• Nectre 15 pedestal wood
heater (

• Mega Anchor building foundation
system (

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Dickson residence
Designer Ric Butt, Strine Design
Location Dickson, ACT
Project type New build from
portfolio design
The Millennium is made principally of Cost $400,000

precast concrete walls and is mostly

Photography David Somlyay

prefabricated, which keeps costs down


Hot water
• Rinnai 26 instant gas with Smart Start

Renewable Energy
• BP 1kW grid-connected photovoltaics with
Sunnyboy inverter, supplied and installed by
Green Frog Solar (

Water saving
• 2 x 4500L Colorbond rainwater tanks
plumbed to garden, toilet and laundry with an
Aquasource pump that can switch between
tanks and mains (;
fully enclosed gutters
• Shutters and pergola for shade

Building Materials
• Highly insulated sandwich
constructed precast concrete panels
with insulated precast floor slabs,
supplied and installed by Strine


• Maximum thermal mass in walls and floors

C anberra architect Ric Butt came up with his

house template at the turn of the century,
appropriately called the Millennium House. It is
are enjoyable to live in. It’s about quality of life.”
Through his Queanbeyan, ACT company, Strine
they’re heat collectors.”
According to his reading of environmental
Having single-glazing to the north might seem
heretical to some, but to Ric it makes perfect
years ago.
Apart from the build process being “easy
with extensive north-facing glazing
• Sliding highlights for cross-ventilation
Design, Ric has created a 140 square metre physics, the best performing roof option is a curved sense; “We want to maximize the heat coming in on time and on budget”, they got the house in hallway
made principally of pre-cast concrete walls and is “ecological machine for living” that he says can be during winter.” Heat loss at night is mitigated by that they wanted, says Penny. “It’s the perfect • Solar chimneys
roof because it creates “a natural, internal thermal
mostly prefabricated, which “keeps costs down.” at lock up in a week at a cost of $250,000 for the good quality Roman blinds; heat gain in summer is size for us. In mid August we can walk
cycle in which air is subtly being moved”.
The architect is a country-raised boy who grew basic module. mitigated by a pergola, blinds and solar chimneys around in t-shirts. Every room is accessible Glazing
Ric explains his long-evolving philosophy of
up with the make-do or do-it-yourself ethos of the “Sustainability features are about fundamentals,” for nighttime cooling. to the outside and we get beautiful cross- • Double glazing to south, single
“thermal isolation” as “locking into the thermal
bush. Even after almost four decades of practice, he says. “We keep it simple and affordable both in Though the width of the Millennium House ventilation in summer.” glazing to rest of house
Ric still talks with passionate conviction about his mass of the earth, which at about one metre down
terms of the build cost and the running costs.” is fixed, it can be lengthened at the client’s It was a catalogue design, but the
rules of design. The form of the Millennium House is a strict maintains a constant temperature of about 18 discretion. Canberra public servant Penny Pardoe- householders have found themselves loving Lighting
His unapologetic mission is to make sustainable 6.5 metres in width to afford maximum sun degrees all year round. This makes it much easier Matthews and her partner Robyn Black elongated their Millennium House so much “that we feel • CFLs throughout
houses as affordable as possible, to create “the penetration through to the interior north-facing to maintain the house at a comfortable 20 degrees their Millennium home by two small bedrooms and like it was built expressly for us. It is tailor made
most efficient buildings that cost the least and that walls and floor slab. To him, “they aren’t just walls, through winter and summer.” an extra bathroom when they had Strine build it two and comfortable”. Active COOLING
• Ceiling fans

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