One of the keys of an efficient, sustainable design is good orientation so your living areas can soak up all the winter sun, but that can be a challenge on a north-south facing block, especially when north is to the front. Elegant solutions at North South House means the home is both energy-efficient and light-filled...
Designed by Preston Lane Architects, this new home in Box Hill South overcomes the challenges of a north-south facing block while still letting in lots of natural light for passive heating. What started as a typical rear extension to the existing post-war weatherboard home soon turned into a new home as the feasibility of achieving the clients' needs with an extension became unrealistic.
The home has four bedrooms, two living areas and several study spaces which have proven invaluable during the recent COVID-19 lockdowns. An important element of the design was creating four distinct zones so that each member of the family of four could find their own space while still coming together during the day.
The front section of the home contains the main bedroom and second living space, both facing north. A side entry, between the family room and the two children's rooms and utility areas, creates the first buffer between the two zones. With crazy paving on the floor, brick walls that extend from outside in and a large frameless glass window at the end of the entry, this space almost feels like it's still outside and lets light into this central part of the home.
Moving to the rear of the home, the living space opens onto the pool and a sizable covered deck for outdoor dining. This is where it was most crucial to bring light into the spaces. An angled roof over the kitchen and dining areas brings in plenty of north light from a large clerestory window. The double bonus of this window is that it can help to let hot, stale air out of the home in warmer months, in turn drawing fresh cool air in from the south.
A small courtyard to the north of the lounge area is another way light can enter the home. The huge, frameless glass window facing this courtyard rises over four meters which not only looks dramatic but lets an abundance of midday sun in cooler months. Double glazed windows to the south prevent heat loss while opening up to the pool and garden.
Upstairs is a flexible rumpus space, study and guest room and bathroom which is the perfect retreat for guests or the perfect home office depending on the needs of the family.
Importantly, the home features some high-tech equipment to ensure it's not just energy-efficient but is mostly powered by renewable energy. An electric heat pump provides hot water and heating for the home through a hydronic system. It also heats the pool in summer. This system is mostly powered by the large array of solar panels on the home as well as a battery that will be installed in the workshop space.
"Our clients are a family of four (five now they have a new dog) who had an interest in good design and sought a house that was beautiful but simple, practical, and worked. There was a strong interest in energy efficiency, in particular, solar, and battery and new heat pump technologies, from our client’s professional research work." - Preston Lane Architects
Getting light into living areas with a south-facing backyard is tricky. But here it's handled elegantly for an efficient and bright home. Combined with high-efficiency technology and renewable energy, the home is sustainable and comfortable year-round.