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9 Innovative Homes That Championed Sustainability In 2022

Sustainable Homes

Last year we saw an impressive number of homes that put sustainability at the forefront of their design, which is something we simply can’t get enough of. These thoughtful projects prove once again that great design + sustainability go hand in hand! 

Here’s a recap of the most inspiring examples of environmentally-conscious homes we came across in 2022.

3rd January, 2023

West Bend House is a new home designed by MRTN Architects with designers Brave New Eco. Photography – Peter Bennetts. Styling – Studio Georg. Sourcing – Bea + Co

The facade’s scale is also in keeping with the 1853 stone house that was previously on site. Photography – Peter Bennetts. Styling – Studio Georg. Sourcing – Bea + Co

With quiet spaces to soak it all in! Photography – Peter Bennetts. Styling – Studio Georg. Sourcing – Bea + Co

The dreamy wood details in the kitchen! Photography – Peter Bennetts. Styling – Studio Georg. Sourcing – Bea + Co

A New Northcote Home That Takes Its Cues From Italian Villages

Think of West Bend House — a new home designed by MRTN Architects with designers Brave New Eco — as an ‘inhabited pathway.’ 

Located on an elongated block in Northcote, the house was conceptualised as a ‘small village’ of clearly defined interconnected spaces from front to back – a design that maximise its size, views to Merri Creek, and functionality to suit a family of five.

The majority of the home is not visible from the street. Rather, West Bend House is intentionally recessive, allowing the garden by SBLA Landscape Architecture and views of Merri Creek trees to serve as the focal point of residents and passersby. 

This house is fully electric, with heat pump in-slab heating and a battery backup solar system. Rainwater tanks and solar passive orientation further maximise the sustainable performance, creating one of Northcote’s most impressive contemporary homes.

Read the full story here.

The expansive facade! Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit. Styling – Kim Kneipp

The kitchen forms the heart of the home. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit. Styling – Kim Kneipp

A Chiminees Phillippe fireplace. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit. Styling – Kim Kneipp

The striking Cypress House sits along the coastal towns of the Mornington Peninsula. Photo – Willem-Dirk du Toit. Styling – Kim Kneipp

A Striking Sustainable Family Home In Flinders

Sustainability was front of mind when it came to the design of this family home on the Mornington Peninsula.

Tucked away in the costal town of Flinders, Cypress House was a collaboration between owner-builder Matt Westle of Loreco Constructions and Dave Brodziak, director of Insider Outsider.

The home’s orientation and eaves were specifically designed to direct sunlight in throughout winter and prevent it during summer – decreasing the need to use artificial cooling and heating and energy consumption. There’s also a 10,000-litre water tank connected to irrigation system, and a 12kw solar battery.

Wrapped in reclaimed cypress cladding, the private property is just as striking inside, with warm and sustainably sourced timber throughout – and it holds an impressive 7.5-star NatHERS rating!

Read the full story here.

A prolific grapevine shade at the front, north-facing section of the house provides shade during summer, and allows heat and light to filter through in winter. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

A prolific grapevine shade at the front, north-facing section of the house provides shade during summer, and allows heat and light to filter through in winter. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Most of the couple’s furniture is recycled or made from recycled materials. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

‘Since moving in, we have both become vegetarians,’ says Robyn. ‘It just seemed natural to continue reducing our impact on the environment.’ Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Robyn’s art studio is one of the main elements in the warehouse-style home. Rather than being separated from the other rooms, it’s incorporated into the open-plan space and is the first area you walk into when entering the house.  Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

A Sustainable Light-Filled Frankston Home Producing Negative Power Bills

When Robyn and Jonathan Rich started to build their new home with sustainable practices and materials at the forefront, they didn’t think it would turn out as well as it did.

Their small Frankston house, which they designed and built themselves, is not only a delightfully charming home, inside and out, but it has also achieved an impressive 7.9 NatHERS stars. 

The structure is made almost entirely from recycled materials; red bricks, old decking and panels from the property’s aged shed! But more than giving the house a warm ‘vibe’, the bricks and concrete floor slab in fact also facilitate comfortable temperature control in all seasons.

Adding to this natural temperature control is a grapevine shade, which blocks sun in summer and allows light and warmth to penetrate in winter. There’s also double glazed uPVC windows throughout and a Zehnder Z350 ComfoAir Heat Recovery Ventilation system with ground loop, providing 24/7 ventilation and heat recovery.

With two independent 5kw solar systems providing more that four times the power the house uses, Robyn and Jonathan often find themselves with negative power bills, as all their excess electricity is fed back into the grid, earning them money.

Robyn and Jonathan’s efforts to make their home as sustainable as possible have also paid off at the bank, with their energy-efficient house producing negative power bills!

Read the full story here.

Perhaps the most sustainable feature of all is the home’s robust material palette, designed to BAL 29 standards to withstand ember attacks. Photos – Christopher Frederick Jones

Drawing inspiration from famous American projects the Glass House by Philip Johnson (1949) and Farnsworth House by Mies Van Der Rohe (1951), the weekend refuge takes the form of a robust, fortress-like structure that frames its surrounding landscape. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

At only 67 square metres (about the size of a modern two-bedroom apartment), the house is compact, yet highly resolved and comfortable. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Bellbird Retreat by Steendyk is a sustainable rural Queensland project that’s taken the global architecture community by storm. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

A Sustainable Retreat In Rural Queensland Inspired By Classic American Glass Houses

The philosophy of architecture practice Steendyk is that sustainability can be achieved without compromising on lifestyle and amenity. In fact, sustainable design can actively enhance a home, creating real and meaningful connections to the land.

This thinking is epitomised in Bellbird Retreat, a small but mighty project located in the rural town of Killarney, Queensland. 

Drawing inspiration from the famous Glass House by Philip Johnson (1949) and Farnsworth House by Mies Van Der Rohe (1951) in the US, this weekend refuge takes the form of a robust, fortress-like structure that frames its surrounding landscape. Contrasting protective and warm materials are intertwined to maintain high aesthetic sensibilities, while achieving an BAL 29 bushfire rating and 7 NatHERS stars. 

Read the full story here.

Materials were chosen for the sustainable properties to create the most efficient and comfortable home possible, including recycled bricks. ‘We have hand-collected a lot of these recycled bricks from demolition sites throughout Melbourne over the course of two years, and have hand cleaned them,’ says Felicity. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Editorial styling – Belle Hemming

The site comprises a 250 square metre wedge-shaped triangle accessed solely off an unnamed bluestone back lane. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Editorial styling – Belle Hemming

Artwork on right ‘Ordung Muss Sein #6’ by Richard Dunn: The two and half level home contains four-bedrooms, two living spaces, three bathrooms, and a roof garden on a mere 78 square metre footprint. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Editorial styling – Belle Hemming

The home responds to the adjacent train line, referencing dynamics of the passing carriages in design and materiality. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Editorial styling – Belle Hemming

An Ultra-Sustainable Home On An ‘Undevelopable’ Melbourne Site

The development of Hütt 01 Passive House started with a simple but profound question: how can we create better homes for a better planet?

Felicity and Marc Bernstein regularly asked themselves this question in their work as co-founders of Melbourne Design Studios, but saw potential to explore this further when building their own family home. The resulting home supports the couple’s own sustainable lifestyle, and also acts as a prototype project for a series of pre-conceived, ready-to-build Passive House designs, launching very soon!

The home enjoys year-round thermal comfort facilitated through insulation, airtightness, stringent window and door design, ventilation systems with heat recovery, and the elimination of thermal bridges. On top of this impressive thermal performance, the property contains seven water tanks, a 11.4 kW solar system, battery, heat pump hot water production, and an aquaponics setup.

The stylish nordic-inspired home in Coburg meets the highest Passive House standards, creating more energy than it uses, and achieving a 8.6 NatHERS rating!

Read the full story here.

Pepper Tree Passive House by Alexander Symes Architect. Photo – Barton Taylor

It’s a secondary dwelling accompanying an existing family home in Wollongong. Photo – Barton Taylor

A new wraparound deck on the existing home creates spaces for entertaining that provide both a noise and visual buffer to the street, and direct views over the street tree canopies towards Mount Kembla. Photo – Barton Taylor

The living area. Interior design by Paiano Design. Artwork by Tanya Stubbles. Photo – Barton Taylor

A Compact Passive House Built Around A Pepper Tree

Pepper Tree Passive House by Alexander Symes Architect is an example of how to add energy-efficient space to an existing functional home in a more cost-effective manner. 

Seeking a home built to the Passive House standard—but without the budget to update the existing house on site to this extent—Alexander Symes Architect devised a secondary, separate dwelling on the site.

The new dwelling is a U-shaped structure wrapping around a 60-year-old pepper tree. Shou sugi ban cladding and green roofs conceal the home among the tree canopy, rendering the building virtually invisible from above.

Read the full story here.

House in Tasmania, aka Big Red, is a new, small dwelling conceived as a contemporary interpretation of an Australian shack. Photo – Max Combi

Fibre cement cladding would never have been selected over hardwood if not to keep costs down, and yet this has arguably become the project’s defining asset. Photo – Max Combi

The central outdoor deck and walkway. Photo – Max Combi

The Colorbond roof in Manor Red is durable and typical to the homes of the area. Various artworks by Lucienne Rickard, Joel Crosswell, Jo White, Robert O’Connor, and Heather B Swann. Photo – Max Combi

A Modest Contemporary Home Inspired By Classic Tasmanian Shacks

Every element of ‘Big Red’, from the materiality to its size, outlook, and colour palette, is entirely tied to its waterfront location in south-east Tasmania.

Designed by Architect George, the floor plan covers just 90 square metres of the 663 square metre block to suit a modest budget (for architect-designed home), a sustainable way of life, and the character of the surrounding neighbourhood.

Materials are similarly inspired by the landscape, particularly the red fibre cement pavilion and Colorbond roof referencing classic Tasmanian homes and the site’s gorgeous sunsets. 

Read the full story here.

Miele oven blends seamless into the kitchen space. Dining table by Not All Architecture. Photo – Tom Ross.

A ramp leads up to the house and through to the internal verandah. Photo – Tom Ross.

The internal verandah acts as a divide between the living and sleeping hubs. Photo – Tom Ross.

An Elevated 100sqm Beach Shack That Champions Passive Design

The owners of this Jan Jac house came to Not All Architecture with a simple brief; create a small, low impact home that tested the opportunities for living well within a 100sqm footprint. 

But how do you take a modest beach house, designed to be inhabited for short periods of time, and design it as a permanent residence – without significantly increasing its footprint? 

For architect Phoebe Clarke the answer lay in placing the verandah, not around, but directly through the middle of the house – to facilitate year-round outdoor living, optimise thermal performance, and to split the sleeping and living wings for visual and acoustic privacy. Genius!

Read the full story here.

The renovation included minor updates to refresh the original home, and a new extension. Photo – Tom Ross

The family now makes the most of their pergola and outdoor kitchen. Photo – Tom Ross

A Thoughtful Northcote Renovation Brings Family Together With An Open Backyard Kitchen

At this Northcote home, ‘family is everything and pizza is a close second’ after a considered renovation by Melbourne-based architecture firm, Breathe.

Initially an old Edwardian, the revived Fireside House prioritises functionality, liveability, and sustainability, drawing on the client’s upbringing in the country and a love of spending time outdoors by the fire.

Read the full story here.

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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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net