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A Lush Inner-Melbourne Home That Powers Itself

Sustainable Homes

On a long, narrow street in Prahran, you might walk past this white-shingled cottage and think it was a modest new home. But behind this facade lies an unexpected gem – Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects –  a high-tech home that is completely self-powered.

In fact, this clever, contemporary home pushes far more sustainable energy back into the shared energy grid than it uses!

25th March, 2021

The modest facade of Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects belies its size and scale. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Garden House was built around existing trees and an established garden. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

All the main areas of the house are oriented toward the garden. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Recycled yellow bricks were selected by the clients for its nostalgic qualities – reminding them of their grandparent’s homes, and their time at Melbourne University! Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

The materials were selected for their warmth – literally and physically. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

A corner of the dining room, with a window seat peeking out to the garden. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

The living area. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Adjacent to the dining area is a pool, completely heated by solar power. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Looking from the living area into the kitchen. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

A lush kitchen lightwell. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

The ovens and cooktops in the kitchen are solar-powered. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

This ultra-efficient home has been designed to feel warm and intimate. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

The kitchen. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Looking from the dining area through to the kitchen and the lightwell beyond. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Connection to the garden is introduced at every possible opportunity. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

An area of retreat next to the main bedroom. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

A garden entertaining area under the shade of one of the established trees this home was built around. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Look closely to find the mirrored linkways connecting the structures. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Upstairs is the open balcony area off the main bedroom, overlooking the garden and the pool. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Each structure is nestled into its lush surrounds. Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Even the car is powered by the family home! Furniture, art and object – Simone Haag. Photography – Derek Swalwell.

Sally Tabart
Thursday 25th March 2021

This clever home is completely self-powered, and its owners pay nothing for fuel or power.

Snaking its way down a long residential block in Prahran, Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects has been designed around three large existing trees and an established garden.

Although the client’s desire was for a super modern house, they didn’t want an enormous home that looked like a smartphone. A key criteria was to capture the garden, as well as reflect a sense of warmth and intimacy. It needed to feel like a ‘homely’ space for a family of five, and just as easily entertain ample groups. The response from Austin Maynard Architects was to break up the main areas of the house into four smaller scale zones.

The layout is a little tricky to explain, so bear with me here!

Behind the street-facing garage and workshop is an all-purpose rumpus room, with a home office situated above. Connected to this space are the living, dining and kitchen areas, opening out to the secluded garden (and pool!), with the main bedroom and lounge retreat, en suite and an open balcony area perched on top.

Finally, a separate kids pavilion houses three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a TV room, and a netted play-stair. The separate structures are united through mirrored walkways that reflect the garden and create the impression of four independent buildings, nestled into the lush garden surrounds.

Tying together the entire scheme is the furniture, art and object styling of Simone Haag.

This clever home is completely self-powered, and its owners pay nothing for fuel or power. While the average Australian home uses 19kWh of energy per day, Garden House produces 100kWh per day, and has a 26kWh Tesla battery. The house creates enough energy to charge the family’s electric car and power the entire home (including hydronic heating, cooktops, ovens and a heated pool), has no gas connection and is fossil fuel free. ‘All power within the home is generated via the solar panel array and stored within a battery’, explains Mark Austin, co-director of Austin Maynard Architects. ‘The house has 17kWh of solar panels facing north, east and west to maximise solar output throughout the day.’ It actually produces more than it uses – and the excess goes back into the shared energy grid.

A 10,000 litre water storage tank is located under the concrete slab in the garage, and collected water is used for toilet flushing and garden irrigation.

Despite all the bells and whistles, the preservation of the existing garden is what oriented the design of this sustainable house. In some parts it literally floats above the ground to protect important tree root zones. It’s the reference point of the entire home, and is ultimately what is most celebrated in the everyday experience, including fruit trees, herb gardens, and vegetable patches that bear plenty of seasonal produce. Eckersley Garden Architecture was brought on board to further enrich green spaces, selecting plants for their resilience and water-efficiency.

The future of sustainable energy in residential homes is here… and it looks a lot like this innovative new home by Austin Maynard Architects!

The traditional owners of the land on which Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects is built are the Boonwurrung People of the Kulin Nation.

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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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.