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.