There's no need to move to a tiny cabin in the middle of the bush to start living more sustainably. Kurnell House by Dunn & Hillam Architects explores the idea of long-term sustainability through the idea of 'appropriateness'. In the process, they've designed a responsible family home which suits a busy family.
"This house is an exemplary example of what we think should be ‘the norm’. It is designed to be ‘appropriate’ : the right size for its purpose, built as far as possible with sustainable materials, energy efficient, flexible in terms of space, and built for the long term."
"Above all, it is a house designed for a family. They have lots of stuff. They have swimming lessons, piano, tennis, soccer. Mum and Dad both work. There’s a lot going on. So the demands on this house, every day, are high."
"We strongly advocate to our clients that a key principle of sustainable design is size. A bigger house uses more resources to build but also to light, to heat, to clean and to maintain. So even on this site where space is available we have designed for compact and efficient living. This means every space has to work hard, be flexible and versatile and get it’s feeling of spaciousness from visual tricks, rather than actual bulk space."
At Kurnell House, the architects renovated an Interwar-period property. The result is a modern three bedroom (plus study), two bathroom home. The secret was adding another storey to the home, which contains the bedrooms and study.
Downstairs a new entry foyer (nicknamed, 'The Bridge') brings old and new together. This space also acts as a buffer zone for this typical family with a lot of stuff. It's a storage space, designed for the kids to dump their school bags, take off their shoes, stow sports equipment and hang jackets without them overflowing into the rest of the house.
The architects raised the ceiling height in the lower level to create a more generous living space and improved the connection to the garden. This brings in more Northern light into the home and improves cross ventilation.
The new home is a sensitive addition to the area. Its scale and style is in keeping with the rest of the neighbourhood. The design also carefully considers issues of privacy to and from neighbouring homes and the street.
When it comes to sustainable design, Dunn & Hillam Architects have a few simple principles to help you:
"Passive: the majority of issues to do with energy use, amenity and comfort in houses can be solved by good design. We always design out the need for mechanical systems. We insulate, ventilate and control the sun for heat and light.
Size: keep it small. Smaller buildings use less resources in construction and in the ongoing life of the building.
Adaptive: most buildings, where structurally sound can be adapted to new purposes, so we always look to retain as much existing building as we can.
Materials: keep it simple and recyclable. Use renewable timber instead of steel and avoid all kinds of composite materials where possible. Only use finishes where absolutely necessary for the longevity of the material. Choose materials for their ability to weather well and be stable in the long term."