When two vets made the tree change to Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges, they soon realised they needed a home that would embrace the bush landscape, with a focus on sustainability. The couple engaged Bent Architecture to design the project, having already worked together on a previous house.
The key challenge posed to the architects was to design a house that would limit site disturbance, while also employing efficient passive design principles. These factors were important not just for the owners themselves, but also for their many pets (!), and to support surrounding fauna. ‘Birds and wildlife are regular visitors to the site, and we didn’t want this to stop, even temporarily, during the construction process,’ says Paul Porjazoski, director of Bent Architecture.
Paul’s intention for this project was to demonstrate that ‘energy efficiency and poetry can coexist, as can the built environment and its natural surroundings.’ In this house we see these elements not only coexist, but fully embrace one another as equals. Paul explains, ‘The position of the sun and prevailing breezes are treated as building materials equivalent to the bricks and mortar of the house.’
Bent’s design utilises passive design techniques to ensure this home is comfortable and efficient year-round. The long and narrow floor plan stretches from east to west, maximising opportunities for northern light, while windows on opposite sides invite in cool breezes. Double-glazed windows offer further comfort, alongside polished concrete floors that soak up winter sun through large north-facing windows. As an added bonus, the installation of solar panels on the roof limits the owner’s annual power bills to around just $300!
The bush location of this property created very specific building requirements, including a solid podium of concrete and block work the house is built on. Paul explains this isn’t your typical block work, but a ‘lightweight, sustainable building block fabricated with waste timber content’, offering a unique and eco-friendly built outcome. Locally sourced ironbark was also selected for external cladding based on its fire resistance properties, while adding natural warmth and texture to the design. Finally, the roof form is cleverly designed to minimise buildup of potentially dangerous leaf litter.
Visit Olinda House now and you’ll likely find the owners tending to the garden, while their pets stretch out on a sunny patch of polished concrete. Paul describes this project as one that celebrates and enhances its spectacular surrounding natural landscape. ‘Whether it’s getting out in the garden, feeling connected to nature (even when inside), or just sitting back and enjoying a slower pace of living, the Olinda House makes it a joy!’