Sam and the team at Crosson Architects were inspired by the locality and drew on the character of the island to inform the design. The final form has a boatshed-like shape as one would expect to find on a jetty. Similarly, Department of Conservation (DOC) huts scattered throughout New Zealand on walking trails, national parks and council properties, informed the form and materiality of the Kawau Island House. Both are very simple, very utilitarian and very resilient structures. Given they are not full-time residences, bachs are usually designed to be easily but effectively closed up. When the family leaves the process is to lean out each little wooden window, hook onto a device, and close down the outer skin on the building. Equally, on arrival there is delight to be had in the process of opening the bach up.
A double-height, central corridor runs off-centre from the front to the rear.
Though formally quite simple – “just a gable structure…and 150 square-metres over two levels” – Crosson has managed to inject a liveliness and dynamism to the plan. A double-height, central corridor with stairs to the upper level runs off-centre from the front to the rear. The result is four wedge-shaped areas across two levels. Downstairs the kitchen/dining area faces the living room. The corridor in between can be closed when desired to offer privacy or mitigate noise between two groups (parents and children for example). Upstairs, an elevated mezzanine peels off on one side to a bunk room that sleeps four and a second bedroom. On the other side is the main bedroom and ensuite. The elevated views upstairs look out to Harris Bay, framing the bay and boats as they come in and out. The understated shed-like form is playfully juxtaposed against large, over-scaled front doors in a way that is both thrilling and delightful. They easily slide open and around again offering a contrast, this time between their mammoth size and their ease of operation. The translucent corrugated front transitions into corrugated aluminum, wrapping around the rest of the bach like a skin. Inside, plywood lines the walls and ceiling and joining the solid Oak floor. The stair and mezzanine continue the use of solid Oak while the slatted design of the staircase allows the compact space to feel light and airy and maintaining sightlines wherever you are in the house. For the clients who wanted a small and intimate bach to be a respectful addition to Harris Bay, the Kawau Island House has been designed to offer a lightness of being through both its footprint and materiality. The configuration is playful yet practical, while materials are equally durable and modern – to the delight of parents and children alike. Crosson Architects crosson.co.nz Photography by David Straight We think you might also like Yolk House by Pac Studio abc
DOC huts scattered throughout New Zealand informed the form and materiality of Kawau Island House. Both are simple, utilitarian and resilient structures.
Do your homeworkFirstly, check the credentials of your experts and suppliers. According to research led by Dr Stephen Berry at UniSA, 80 per cent of new Australian homes built between 2016 and 2018 only just complied with the minimum six-star NatHERS standard, and just 1.5 per cent of new homes exceeded 7.5 stars. But many project homebuilders in Australia – who construct the vast majority of the 220,000 new houses and apartments built each year – advertise as if they are supplying high-performance homes, rather than just meeting the minimum standard, according to research by Dr Warren-Myers. So it definitely pays to undertake due diligence before deciding how to proceed, and which companies to entrust with your project, especially if you would like to actively reduce your carbon footprint and/or make your home more climate resilient.
What about energy and water efficiency?If you’re planning to build or renovate, you’ll need to consider your proposed spatial requirements – and how your family will use the rooms and outdoor areas you envisage – but have you paused to consider how your home might reduce energy and water consumption? The cost of those utilities will continue to rise, and energy use – from fossil fuel sources – is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. The National Construction Code (NCC) – which doesn’t currently address climate change – provides some hints about how to improve the liveability of your home, based on your location and climate. It divides Australia into eight climatic zones, where different weather patterns create varying performance requirements. For example, in Zones 1 to 3 – the tropical north – the code aims to reduce the need energy-intensive air-conditioning; while in southern regions – such as Zone 7 – it aims to reduce the need for winter heating.
How does good design address climate?The first step is to adopt passive design principles, which vary from place to place. In the tropics, it’s advisable to keep direct sun out of houses, and use louvres and doors to channel natural breezes through the home. In cooler zones, it’s advisable to position living rooms to face north – making the most of winter sun – while installing adequate eaves and seasonal shade structures to exclude summer sun. As we discussed in the previous article, most 20+ year old houses leak heat and coolness, making them less comfortable and efficient during seasonal extremes, so making good on this inefficiency should be a major focus for new builds and renovations. The issue of indoor comfort will become more pertinent as the climate warms, with heatwave events likely to increase. This is already happening in some places: Penrith in Western Sydney topped 48.9 degrees Celsius on early January; and Adelaide and Port Augusta reached 46.6 and 49.5 degrees Celsius respectively, in late January. Owl Woods House in Trentham, Victoria, by Talina Edwards Architect
What about gardens and landscape?It’s also worth considering the “urban heat island” effect, which exacerbates the impact of extreme heat. Hot surfaces such as roads and footpaths, dark-coloured roofs, bare ground and paved surfaces all compound this problem, so consider your use of materials – choosing light coloured and reflective roofs, and also plant trees, climbing shrubs, vines and natives (which have the added benefit of enhancing biodiversity). Landscaping elements are as important as buildings themselves, because they provide summer shade and cool the surrounding air through transpiration.
Should I install solar power?Homeowners and renovators can avoid rising power prices – and future brownouts and blackouts – by installing photovoltaic panels (and perhaps battery storage). Currently, 2.31 million Australian homes – that’s one-in-five households – has solar power; the highest take-up rate in the world. The payback period for photovoltaics has dropped to about three to five years, making them a worthwhile investment.
Does size matter?Consider the overall size of your home. Did you know that new homes average 250 square metres in Australia? These require more energy for heating and cooling than smaller houses, so try and reduce your overall footprint – or create zoned areas that you can easily shut down when not in use – to save on energy bills. A skilled Architect can help you devise a smaller but well-designed plan, which also saves money on upfront construction costs.
Should I build using straw, timber or bricks?Smaller houses reduce your carbon footprint by reducing embodied energy – as does material selection – because products such as concrete and steel are extremely carbon intensive. It won’t be possible to use these materials in the same quantities in future and to meet our Paris target obligations, designed to halt global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels by 2030. Opt instead for recycled and renewable materials such as recycled bricks and steel, plantation timber and even hemp, which absorbs carbon as it grows and after it has been applied as a building material. Armadale House in Victoria, designed by Cameron Munro
Is there a simple, easy answer?Kind of. At the moment, the best single option is Passive House standard, which was developed in Germany and Sweden to counter the extreme cold of Northern European winters. Adapted for Australian conditions, Passive Houses generally rate above 7.5 stars – sometimes up to 10-stars – thanks to extra insulation; the fact they are tightly sealed against heat gain and loss; and the use of a low-energy mechanical ventilation system to bring in fresh air and expel stale air. They cost slightly more to build than regular 6-star homes, but Passive Houses deliver lower operational energy bills over time, and are more comfortable to inhabit, all year round. They don’t deal especially well with embodied energy yet, and that’s an area that requires further research and development in Australia. At present, only a few architects and designers are accredited to deliver Passive House standard homes in Australia, and builders are still learning the system too, but this is a growing movement, propelled by homeowners who are keen to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The Passive House standard has been applied to new builds (see Talina Edwards Architect’s Owl Woods House in Trentham, Victoria); renovations to a weatherboard cottage in the city (Cameron Munro’s Armadale house, also in Victoria) and inner-city apartments (The Fern, in Redfern by Steele Associates). Expect to see more innovation and increased take-up of Passive House standard in future, regardless of what governments do to improve regulatory responses to climate change, as people invest in high performance homes that delivery comfort and financial benefits over the long term. Read the first of the two part series on housing here.abc
Clikclax was initially conceived as a bespoke design solution for your office once they returned from WFM. What made you think to offer it commercially and did that mean the initial design needed to be changed/refined?I was in the studio working out how we could all come back together safely and in accordance with the recommended physical distancing guidelines – I was imaging screens hanging from the ceiling, or some kind of divider that was not a ghastly sneeze guard, and then I was like, hang on, we need Playplax, just on a bigger scale. I figured if we needed it, then everyone else was going to need it too…and I decided to think beyond my office and design something that was fun and easy and could take over the world!
Tell us about the inspiration behind Clikclax, being Playplax, and how you’ve drawn from the toys to make your own unique design?I had been reminiscing about my old Playplax set for some time. I remember sitting on the living room floor at my grandparent’s house when I was about five, amongst their Featherstone furniture constructing towers and forts with my grandfather, who was an aeronautical engineer. I thought I might design a range of furniture for one of our student accommodation projects using it as an inspiration and wanted to get my hands on it. I found two sets: the squares came from London and circles from Manhattan. They arrived and sat on my desk for a while. When I had my lightning bolt moment in the office, they came out to play. The whole thing came together very intuitively after that and the idea grew from there, and we were live three weeks later. Clikclax is also a throwback to the plywood dinosaurs that I used to make with my dad, and the set of the Eames House of Cards, so this is really an amalgamation of childhood memories.
The whole thing came together very intuitively after that and the idea grew from there, and we were live three weeks later.
Tell us about the different colour stories. Are they designed with personalities in mind, or style preferences, or architectural movements?I had seen some beautiful images of Australian animals being cared for after the disastrous fires we had at the beginning of this crazy year; a galah, a wombat and a baby grey kangaroo. They became the starting point for the colour range (we are donating $5 from each kit sold online to an Australian charity to assist with the recovery off these animals). I didn’t really have anyone in particular in mind; I just loved the idea of drawing from the bush and making something flexible and fun and colourful – like a mixed bag of Perspex lollies. We developed a funny tone-of-voice, with reference to Australian slang and humour; and the whole Clikclax style and story become symbiotic and fluid. We had a lot of fun with the branding and wanted to bring a sense of fun and joy to these strange times and this new normal.
The system is very appealing and the pieces highly modular; do you picture Clikclax in residential work environments too?I can see it in all kids of spaces where people need to come back together but need to keep apart, both physically and psychologically. This is a spatial divider, a system of screens that shape space in an interesting and dynamic way. It’s perfect for schools, on desks, in workplaces with 1000’s of people; it looks amazing on bar tops separating winers and diners; art galleries and boardroom tables. Clikclax is so adaptable – you can make it work anywhere at all, and the colours bring spaces to life in unexpected ways. I see Clikclax as both a noun and a verb. It’s a beautiful object, like desk jewellery, as well as a fun thing to do.
A galah, a wombat and a baby grey kangaroo became the starting point for the colour range.
Clikclax can be configured in numerous ways, which is great, it’s highly versatile. But sometimes too much choice can be just as limiting as not enough. What are some of the standard configurations and do they relate to specific ways of working, or space available? How can the user easily find what’s right for them?In our office, we have set it up as a series of simple screen dividers between workstations, then I built a little corner element with the leftover bits on my desk. Depending on the distancing requirements Clikclax can be configured as a stand-alone cubical, as a series of screens, or as a continuous barrier. It’s great for anyone who likes to think spatially and creatively, and just as good for people who like to follow instructions! We have some of our favourite set-ups on our website for inspiration too. The great thing is that it is not static - you can keep changing it around depending on how you feel or what you need it to do. It’s an adult size desk toy.
Not only have you incredibly quickly responded to working needs in the face of the current pandemic, but you’ve done so working simultaneously at Elenberg Fraser Architecture and your original side hustle: Move-in, a furniture and fit-out company. How do you manage your time and balance projects?After establishing Elenberg Fraser 20 years ago, I am no longer involved with the practice. I am primarily focused on Move-in, where we specialise in full turn-key fit-outs for hotels, serviced apartments and student accommodation projects – and now Clikclax. I am also on the Board of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), which I love and gives me great pleasure. I love being able to participate in the world of ideas. I have three amazing children that are growing up way too fast, but keep me motivated and on my toes. There is no work life balance it is just a crazy fusion of elements that make life so interesting and unpredictable and challenging and rewarding. As long as you keep doing, thinking, talking and experimenting life is good and the balance sorts itself out. Kind of. Clikclax clikclax.com We think you might also like these new releases from Living Edge abc
“Wrapped in meticulous timber grids, the exteriors are carefully planned to reflect the gradual ageing process one sees in nature.”Without appearing gauche or unoriginal, Architecture Discipline’s inspiration found in Villa Petit by Le Corbusier is tastefully acknowledged throughout the interior. Likewise, the four pillars most important to the clients are addressed on numerous occasions throughout the architecture and design. Those being: natural light, clean air, an open floor plan and luxurious interiors. Upon entry, the ceiling is deliberately kept low. To the left, as one enters the formal living, the ceiling dramatically escalates from seven feet to 22. Glass doors extend 6-metres upwards like double height windows and lead out to the large lawn equipped with toddler play areas and custom seating. Large amounts of natural light flood in from this south end of the block. Lemongrass and seasonal flowers have been planted along the boundary fences of the property offering both a connection to nature but also inoffensive means of privacy from neighbours and passers-by as the flora grows. Inside the fence herbs and vegetables used frequently are also growing.
Back inside, accessed via a bright blue metal circular staircase, the formal dining room is visually and physically connected to the formal living below. Despite its minimal aesthetic, the dining room can comfortably host up to 40 people. Like the formal living below, this space overlooks the lawn, which is lush and green, a source of calm to counterbalance lively family dinners or dinner parties. At the bottom of the blue spiral staircase – “inspired by the renowned architect of the modernist movement Pierre Chareau’s dynamic and delicate sense of design” – is a generous basement fitted out as a rec room. “Equipped with a home theatre, giant cellar and replete with storage, it is the perfect extension acoustically treated for loud parties, disconnected from the rest of the house and accessed through an elevator,” say the architects.
Glass doors extend 6-metres upwards like double height windows and lead out to the large lawn.
The family’s bedrooms are all located at the north end of the ground floor, while two guest bedrooms are upstairs, also at the north end. The kids’ room has a colourful floor and geometric textile designs. The adult rooms are, as you’d expect, larger and more mature. The beds in the adult rooms are oversized and placed on giant platforms, reminiscent of a traditional Indian palang. “The project presented an opportunity to its residents to live in their own diverse ways yet unified in spirit,” say the architects. Despite a modest build on a sizeable block, three generations to house, and clearly demarcated public and private areas, Palm Avenue offers an extraordinary amount of flexibility to its residents. Flexible partitions and systems can be moulded to increase or decrease space as needed and bare walls offer space for the family to etch their experiences and memories as the years progress. Architecture Discipline We think you might also like Inside Out House by Gaurav Roy Choudhury Architects abc
“The project presented an opportunity to its residents to live in their own diverse ways yet unified in spirit.”
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Headed up by Dominic Pandolfini, the architects were tasked to upgrade the c.1880s house with modern amenity and create a space in which the client could comfortably live out his retirement, in celebration of music. “Initially a very private man, we got to know [the client] as he shared his music collection with us,” says Dominic, adding that this was as much a conduit for getting to know one another as it was for the development of the project brief. A full restoration of the principal building form was undertaken with the original fabric being retained and refurbished wherever possible. Conceived to sit comfortably in its heritage context, a new, concrete addition responds to the scale and pitched roof forms of the adjacent houses; the smooth, off-form concrete and complete lack of ornament presenting an unmistakably modern counterpoint. A large skylight which spans the width of the site articulates the new and old volumes and allows natural light into the long, narrow site.
Conceived to sit comfortably in its heritage context, a new, concrete addition responds to the scale and pitched roof forms of the adjacent houses.
The unadorned exterior of the concrete addition contrasts with the sculpted interior which has been carefully formed to provide an optimal acoustic experience. The pleated concrete walls and ceiling of the new addition have been specifically calibrated for the space and the client’s audio equipment; a full height wall of folded aluminium panels completes the sound stage and rotate to reveal an extensive music collection. On the ground floor, a central pod conceals the staircase and amenities, freeing up the rest of the interior space and delineating the piano and listening rooms. The floor level steps down into the main listening area, following the slope of the natural ground level to maximise the height in the main living space and creating a fluid connection to the external courtyard. Having lived in his new and improved Concert Hall House for seven months now – including the intensive COVID-19 lockdown period – the client is thrilled with the result. “He’s now able to have friends stay at the house and has been treating a long line of guests to his piano,” says Dominic. Pandolfini pandolfini.com.au Photography by Rory Gardiner Dissection Information Wood Cut European Oak floorboards Bluestone Crazy Paving Euro Marble Carrara Marble, honed finish Zinc cladding Signorino Terrazzo Tiles in Vienna, honed finish Bisazza Mosiac Tiles in Marilyn FLOS architectural lighting from Euroluce Bocci 14s Surface mounted light fixture from Hub Articolo Duo Collection Wall Sconce with Kick Gessi Oxygene Sink Mixer Franke Bolero stainless steel sink Fisher & Paykel Integrated Combi Fridge and Dishwasher Miele Induction Cooktop, Microwave Combi Oven and Built-In Extractor Brodware built-in stone basin and Halo Wall Set Kaldewei Vaio Duo Oval bath We think you might also like Reed House by Beth George abc
On the ground floor a central pod conceals the staircase and amenities, freeing up the rest of the interior space and delineating the piano and listening rooms.
Basically, there is a spectrum of sustainable housing design that ranges from less than 1 to more than 10 stars, but if you undertake a new build or renovation – and just meet the minimum standards – your resulting home is likely to occupy the middle of that spectrum. At the lower end – and this includes most homes, because the vast majority of Australia’s existing houses score just 1- and 2-stars – they tend to be poorly oriented, designed and constructed; and often have substandard insulation and ill-fitting windows and doors, making them leaky. Taken together, these factors mean that most houses are inefficient to operate, leading to high cooling bills in summer and high heating bills in winter (pertaining to location and climate, of course). These homes also produce more carbon emissions than higher performing homes – unless they generate solar power from photovoltaics – thereby contributing further to climate change effects. In the middle of the spectrum are newer homes, especially those built after the NCC’s (the National Construction Code) energy efficiency standards were upgraded in 2010, when minimum standards were lifted to 6-stars (or equivalent, depending on the method used to demonstrate compliance).
There is a spectrum of sustainable housing design that ranges from less than 1 to more than 10 stars, but if you undertake a new build or renovation – and just meet the minimum standards – your resulting home is likely to occupy the middle of that spectrum.
What many consumers don’t realise, however, is that the star rating is assessed during the design phase of residential projects, and there is currently little in the way of post-completion checks. In fact, research conducted by the CSIRO found that about 1.5 per cent of new builds nationally failed to meet the declared standard, and this problem was especially pronounced in Western Australia, where the non-compliance figure was 15-20 per cent. Conversely, the best performing new homes are located in the Australian Capital Territory, again according to CSIRO research, and there’s a good reason for that. In 1999, the ACT government introduced mandatory Energy Efficiency Ratings (EER) for houses at the point of sale. Where ratings exist for rental homes, they must be declared when the property is listed for lease, and last year, as part of its Climate Change Strategy, the ACT government unveiled plans to introduce minimum energy efficiency standards for rental homes by 2022-23, again leading the country in terms of regulation. In the two decades since the EER policy was introduced, it has helped to create greater consumer awareness about the benefits of higher ratings, which has translated into a price premium for houses that score between 7- and 10-stars.
Research conducted by the CSIRO found that about 1.5 per cent of new builds nationally failed to meet the declared standard.
Last year, the federal government announced plans to introduce similar EER ratings for the real estate market across Australia, through its Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings – Existing Buildings, and the Addendum announced in November 2019 , but there is no agreed timeframe on that policy yet. The government has also flagged the possibility of lifting the minimum energy efficient housing levels via the NCC, which is due to be updated in 2022, although the scope of any proposed changes is not yet known. And, like has happened in the past when new regulations have been mooted, some residential builders and developers are likely to actively resist increased standards, even in the face of changing weather patterns and climate emergency effects, such as the past summer’s bushfire crisis. In 2018, the sustainable housing advocacy organisation Renew, kickstarted a new campaign called Climate Resilient Homes, to coordinate and lead a national coalition of 65 consumer and community organisations. Together, these organisations are advocating for policy changes to improve the energy performance of all Australian homes, as a way of providing improve equity around energy efficiency measures for renters and homeowners alike. In part 2 of this article, we’ll look at specific steps homeowners can take when building or renovating a new home to ensure it will be healthy and comfortable – and benefit from lower energy bills and generate fewer greenhouse gases – in the years ahead.abc
The vast majority of Australia’s existing houses tend to be poorly oriented, designed and constructed; and often have substandard insulation and ill-fitting windows and doors.