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The Mona Vale House

A model of sustainability, this home in Sydney’s Mona Vale demonstrates the fusion of design and sustainable thinking.

There aren’t many people who would offer up their new home as an experiment, but the owners of this home in Mona Vale were keen to try out as many sustainable initiatives as they could.

“They wanted to build a contemporary beach house that would be test-bed for a few sustainable initiatives,” explains Architects John Choi of Choi Ropiha.



“One of the clients, Graham, comes from a background working for SEDA (Sustainable Energy Development Authority) and so he has always had an ambition to do something that was a sort of model house to try out some innovative active systems and passive design initiatives."


Solar panels and a 15,000L water tank




For those of you who aren’t across the sustainability lingo, passive systems are those that orient the building to take advantage of sun and cross-breezes etc. to regulate temperature while active systems are things such as solar panels for heating.

However, this home also needed to be a contemporary abode, so all the sustainable bells and whistles had to be subtly and eloquently integrated into the design.


The roof pitch takes advantage of the Northern sun in Winter


“It’s a south facing site with a great view to the ocean so we wanted to have a lot of glazing area to make the most of it,” John says. This meant that they were limited with passive solutions. The answer was to use solar panels to provide heat for underfloor (hydronic) heating.



It can all sound a little overwhelming, which is probably why a lot of people are reluctant to take on sustainable features, but if we all start to understand it, the resulting design can be both beautiful and sit softly in the environment just like this home.

“If you want to do something that’s exceptional, you really need clients who have the joint ambition to do it and a capacity and tenacity to see it through, and we certainly had that on this house.”


Choi Ropiha



Outstanding photography courtesy of Simon Whitbread


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