Not screaming sustainability – Melbourne

The main challenge of the North South House was designing a double storey family house on a north south oriented site that allowed northern sun and light into all the living spaces. A new 4 bedroom family home in the Eastern Melbourne suburb of Box Hill South. The original post war weatherboard house was quaint but unremarkable and the project started as a typical rear extension. As the brief and scope of the project developed through a series of concept designs it quickly became apparent that it was more feasible to demolish the existing house and start again.
The brief called for a new family home consisting of 4 bedrooms, two separate living spaces, multiple study spaces, a swimming pool, as well as most importantly the ability to capture the northern sun on the deep north south oriented block. The house had to incorporate the latest high efficiency heat pump technologies, solar and battery systems.
With this in mind Preston Lane Architects wanted to create an energy efficient house that did not scream sustainability. The house is organised into four distinct zones that allows each member of the family to have their own space, and importantly come together at different times of the day. Feedback from the clients reveals that this has been particularly successful, allowing the family to work and live together during the recent Covid lockdowns.
The front section of the house contains the master bedroom and second living space. The entry is located between this and the central kids’ bedrooms, and utilities rooms. The rear consists of the kitchen, dining, and main living spaces, that open to the outdoor living and pool; and upstairs contains a flexible living, study and spare bedroom.
The design provides a clear delineation between and through each of the zones. As you approach the house a crazy paved landing extends beyond two painted brick walls that leads you to the front door. The crazy paving continues inside through this entry space to an east facing frameless glazed window. The painted brick walls also extend internally and the texture of the paving underfoot and the simple tree beyond provide the sense of still being outside.
There are a series of level changes through the middle of the house constructed of polished concrete and oak floorboards that define each of the spaces. The rear kitchen and dining areas, most importantly, have an angled roof and timber lined ceiling that provides a large north facing clerestory window. This allows the sun to penetrate this space, and naturally expel hot air through an opening window at the high level.
There is a small external courtyard to the north of the main living room which allows for another important north facing window. The window rises over 4 metres in height into a narrow void above the rear of the living room bathing this space in natural light and midday sun. The living room also orients to the south where a large, double-glazed window provides a direct visual connection to the pool from within the house.

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