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A Former Corner Store Turned Sustainable Family Home

Sustainable Homes

It’s notoriously challenging to get council approval for any new home design. Take this home in inner city for example, which took the local council a whopping 414 days (!) to approve!

It was worth the wait. The resulting award-winning ‘Welcome To The Jungle House‘ by CplusC Architectural Workshop was designed by the firm’s passionate director and sustainability crusader, Clinton Cole, for his own young family. By incorporating solar power, thermally sound materials, and an aquaponics system (!) this unique house is an exercise in characterful residential architecture, with the highest sustainability standards.

24th February, 2021

The furniture selection and styling was conducted by Jase Sullivan. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

Though concrete, steel and timber have a higher carbon footprint than other materials, they are more durable and and timeless. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

Due to its high thermal mass, concrete traps heat during the day and releases it during the night – perfect for Sydney’s diurnal temperatures. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

Operable louvres and volumes of negative space create optimal air flow for passive cooling.Photo – Murray Fredericks.

The interiors are a feast of angles and surfaces. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

Glazing and joinery create a material character distinct from the facade expression. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

The speckled concrete render on the facade and some of the front windows were the only parts of the original building protected by a heritage overlay. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

The house is governed by passive cooling principles, which means it can remain a comfortable temperature at most times without mechanical intervention. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

A beach-house kinda bathroom! Photo – Murray Fredericks.

The palette in the wet areas is lighter than the other living zones. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

The triangular site used to contain a dilapidated, pre-Federation corner store. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

The house is predominantly powered by solar energy, which is captured via panels on the exterior. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

Pockets of green foliage spill out over every opening and window sill. The landscaping was completed by Bell Landscapes. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

Other than tip-top views, the rooftop garden contains a veggie patch and fish pond, which are connected via an aquaponics system. An underground rainwater tanks also feeds both ecosystems. Photo – Murray Fredericks.

Sasha Gattermayr
Wednesday 24th February 2021

‘It is my mantra that there should be no distinction between architecture and sustainable architecture – all good architecture must be sustainable.’ – Clinton Cole.

The architectural incarnations of this property in inner Sydney straddle more than a century, and represent the flux in design conventions over those years. The original shopfront was constructed pre-1900 in traditional Federation-era style. Now, the 90 square metre site holds an innovative sustainable home by CplusC Architectural Workshop that reflects the future of residential architecture in Australia.

‘As an architect and a builder, Welcome to the Jungle House is the culmination of several decades of work in the area of sustainable and regenerative architecture,’ says director of CplusC Architectural Workshop and homeowner, Clinton Cole. ‘Building my own family home was an opportunity to bring every aspect of that experience and knowledge into a single vision.’

The triangular site resembles Manhattan’s iconic Flatiron building in shape, but not in style. The original speckled masonry facade and a couple of window openings were the only parts of the dilapidated shopfront’s heritage overlay. While the rendered masonry was retained as is, the protected windows were framed in steel, as a nod to the pre-Federation palette.

The rendered concrete frontage extends down both sides of the corner, whilst bursts of foliage spill over window sills. The streetfacing addition extends beyond this point, and captures solar energy from the solar panels on its north-west facing facade.

‘It is my mantra that there should be no distinction between architecture and sustainable architecture – all good architecture must be sustainable,’ declares Clinton.

The rooftop houses a veggie garden and neighbouring fishpond, which is facilitated by an aquaponics system. Fish-water waste is pumped to the productive patch to feed the growing vegetables with water and bacteria. Rainwater is also caught, filtered and then siphoned back into the fishpond.

In terms of energy, the home has a 4.2kW solar energy system with 10kW battery storage. This is the main power source for the family’s electric car, and powers the smart home system which auto-regulates the shading, lighting and aquaponics system within the house to match passive cooling principles. Internal volumes are designed to maximise ventilation, which cools the house with natural air flow. Paired with concrete slabs that absorb heat in the day and release it during the cooler nights, the house can maintain a comfortable temperature without much mechanical intervention from air conditioners or heaters.

‘At universities around the world, topics of sustainability and passive design strategies are becoming the focal point of education,’ says Clinton. ‘The new generation of architects and designers are equipped with the necessary knowledge to build and evolve our built environment into greener cities.’ Let’s hope new homes like this become the norm!

See more projects from CplusC Architectural Workshop here.

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