This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Heritage Home, Retrofitted To The Highest Sustainability Standards

Sustainable Homes

If you think sustainable design is limited to new-builds, prepare to be blown away by the Passive Butterfly house.

The combined passion and expertise of Eme Design and owner Cameron Munro has transformed a once draughty Victorian house into an airtight home, with 90 percent reduced heating and cooling costs.

While renovating an existing property to this standard is certainly more challenging than building from scratch, this project in Armadale proves nothing is impossible.

14th January, 2020

Beautiful timbers bring an incredible warmth to the otherwise minimal interiors of the Passive Butterfly House by Eme Design. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sukin Kimmy Hogan Hand Wash and Hand Cream in the kitchen. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

There is a seamless interior connection between the new and old areas of the home. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sukin Kimmy Hogan Hand Wash and Hand Cream in the kitchen. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Once a traditional Victorian weatherboard house, the property has been impressively extended and retrofitted to the most sustainable level possible. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A membrane has been wrapped around the house, making it 15 times more airtight than a conventional new Australian home. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The form of the new rear extension is a modified iteration of the butterfly roofs by mid century Melbourne architects Kevin Borland, and Chancellor and Patrick. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The interiors are fitted with a ventilation system providing constant fresh, filtered air to every room. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sukin Enriching Night Cream, Nourishing Cream Cleanser and Certified Organic Rosehip Oil from the Rosehip range. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The rear facade is covered in dense greenery. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A billabong, as the owner refers to it, greets residents before entering the home. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

From the street, this home appears no different from its Victorian weatherboard neighbours. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 14th January 2020

Cameron is so proud of his house – he knows the ins and out of every single element. It’s like a living, breathing organism in some ways.

From the street, this Armadale home appears no different than its Victorian weatherboard neighbours, but look closely and you’ll notice small but profound details hinting at its unique capabilities.

To the right of the facade, beyond the beautiful water-wise native garden, is a charging adaptor for the family’s electric car. Details are visually subtler inside, but their impact is just as radical. Once a traditional Victorian weatherboard house, the property has been impressively extended and retrofitted to the most sustainable level possible.

Owner Cameron Munro has an engineering background and was inspired to undergo this project after living in Europe, where homes are comfortable year-round. ‘They wanted to reproduce that experience with their home in Melbourne, without the expense and environmental impact of large heating and cooling systems,’ says designer Luke Middleton, director of Eme Design.

To achieve this, a membrane was wrapped around the house, making it 15 times more airtight than a conventional new Australian home. Basically, the home has been wrapped in plastic from the inside, reinsulated and replastered, making each room slightly smaller as the walls are built-in. This membrane reduces the need for heating and cooling by more than 90 percent. No wonder there’s such a feeling of stillness and calm when you enter this home – it’s almost like being in a spaceship!

To combat the risk of the house getting ‘stuffy’ or ‘stale’ inside, Cameron has integrated a genius ventilation system, providing constantly fresh, filtered air to every room. This operates at very low power and is monitored by sensors to maintain air quality and temperature.

The form of the new rear extension is a modified iteration of the V-shaped butterfly roofs of mid-century Melbourne architects Kevin Borland, and Chancellor and Patrick. The efficacy of this roofline is evident when comparing it to the home next door, which gets little to no sunlight, despite facing the same direction.

Cameron is so proud of his house – he knows the ins and out of every single element. It’s like a living, breathing organism in some ways. He explains this house is not exactly a 10-star house – which is almost impossible to achieve when working with a period home, but it’s pretty close! It’s also won a number of awards for its sustainable design ­– which are displayed proudly around the house.

It’s clear both design and performance were equally important considerations in this project, culminating in a home that is healthy, comfortable and incredibly energy efficient to run. As Luke explains, ‘This project strove to demonstrate that leaky, cold weatherboard homes can be brought into the 21st century and have very high performance, while still respecting their architectural heritage.’ Mission accomplished!

Australian skincare company Sukin do everything they can to ensure our environment is protected. From partnering with Reef Aid to ensure the Great Barrier Reef has a future, to fully offsetting their carbon footprint. Discover the world of natural, and read more about their sustainability efforts at the  Sukin Journal

This Week

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Homes

A Stylist + Podcaster’s Layered, Textured Seaside Home

Kerrie-Ann Jones’ renovated retro pad in Sydney’s southern beaches is a sun-drenched dream home!
Lucy Feagins
  8 hours ago

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Architecture

The Treasure-Filled Sydney Home Of Two Global Art Collectors

House Gezellig by Studio Prineas reflects their clients’ love for modernist design principles and collection of fine art.
Sasha Gattermayr
  24 hours ago

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Shopping

8 Local Creatives Making Furniture That Doubles As Art

Meet eight of our favourite designers and makers pushing the limits of traditional furniture with their sculptural and striking pieces!
Christina Karras
  Less than an hour ago

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored

View Comments

Similar Stories

TDF Design Awards

11 Australian Sustainable Designs To Inspire

The eco-conscious innovators in the running for the TDF Design Awards Sustainable Design Award.

Sustainable Homes

A Coastal Home That Treads Lightly On The Earth

Making green glamorous in the 10 Star Home by The Sociable Weaver and Clare Cousins Architects in Cape Paterson.

Sustainable Homes

A Dream Off-Grid Retreat

The Elemental House in High Camp by Ben Callery Architects is a cosy weekender, designed with sustainability in mind.

This Week

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Homes

A Stylist + Podcaster’s Layered, Textured Seaside Home

Kerrie-Ann Jones’ renovated retro pad in Sydney’s southern beaches is a sun-drenched dream home!
Lucy Feagins
  8 hours ago

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Shopping

8 Local Creatives Making Furniture That Doubles As Art

Meet eight of our favourite designers and makers pushing the limits of traditional furniture with their sculptural and striking pieces!
Christina Karras
  Less than an hour ago

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.

Architecture

The Treasure-Filled Sydney Home Of Two Global Art Collectors

House Gezellig by Studio Prineas reflects their clients’ love for modernist design principles and collection of fine art.
Sasha Gattermayr
  24 hours ago

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Similar Stories

TDF Design Awards

11 Australian Sustainable Designs To Inspire

The eco-conscious innovators in the running for the TDF Design Awards Sustainable Design Award.

Sustainable Homes

A Coastal Home That Treads Lightly On The Earth

Making green glamorous in the 10 Star Home by The Sociable Weaver and Clare Cousins in Cape Paterson.

Sustainable Homes

A Dream Off-Grid Retreat

The Elemental House in High Camp by Ben Callery Architects is a cosy weekender, designed with sustainability in mind.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net