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Passivhaus principles make this house an urban oasis

Passivhaus principles make this house an urban oasis

Hütt 01 Passivhaus is part experiment, part beacon of contemporary architecture. Melbourne Design Studio (MDS) has integrated sustainable design principles with modern aesthetics – and most importantly – a commitment to overcoming urban densification.

Built by the architects themselves on a challenging, irregular site, the Hütt 01 Passivhaus is more than just a home – it’s a testament to the architects’ belief that net zero energy homes are the future.

The conceptual framework embraces passive solar design, thoughtful material choices, and a strategic architectural form that not only creates a delightful living space but also contributes positively to the surrounding neighbourhood.

With a goal of designing a residence to enhance the lives of its inhabitants, Hütt 01 is bathed in natural northern light, and a strong indoor-outdoor connection. A biophilic design approach ensures a constant connection to nature, with features like a green roof, internal green wall, rainwater garden, and aquaponics system all incorporated with the intent to promote the mental and physical wellbeing of the occupants. It’s a vision for holistic sustainability, which promotes a balanced life.

Hütt 01 gracefully mediates between the adjacent high-rise apartment block and a three-storey building to the south. Its form, inspired by the triangular site geometry, floats above a continuous brick fence. Recycled bricks, charred timber, and black metal cladding seamlessly blend with the inner-urban laneways’ palette, creating a dialogue between the built environment and its context.

Meeting and surpassing the technical benchmarks set by the client’s brief, Hütt 01 perfectly encapsulates a philosophy of “smaller and better.” Despite its compact footprint, clever architectural devices provide a sense of volume and light. The project is a demonstration of how innovation can thrive within constraints, achieving an A++ Life Cycle Assessment rating and Passivhaus Premium certification.

Height and volume help to create a sense of generosity in the smaller spaces, while innovative materials and prefabrication techniques ensured cost savings. Playful elements are a response to an active family life, for instance, crafted nets replace traditional balustrades, and hammocks create a light-hearted touch.

Other considerations in the building process ensure a sustainable outcome, such as CLT construction and natural wood-fibre insulation to recycled bricks and solar PV. The project goes beyond the building itself, considering transportation alternatives, site selection and resource reuse to create a truly holistic approach to environmental sustainability.

In collaboration with various disciplines, including landscape architects, Melbourne Design Studio has orchestrated a masterpiece in the Hütt 01 Passivhaus; and Eckerlsey’s Garden design adds the final touch to this sustainable oasis.

Hütt 01 is a case study in regenerative design, Passivhaus principles and biophilic concepts.

Project details

Architecture, interior design, ESD consultants, passive house consultants and thermal assessors – Melbourne Design Studio (MDS)
Landscape – Eckerlsey’s Garden design
Photography – Marnie Hawson and Matt C Photography

Ground floor plan
First floor plan
Mezzanine floor plan


Aleesha Callahan is the editor of Habitus. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Aleesha seeks out the unique people, projects and products that define the Indo Pacific region. Aleesha was previously the editor of Indesignlive.com and has written and contributed to various publications and brands in her 10 years in the architecture and design industry, bringing intimate insight to her stories having first trained and practised as an interior designer. Her passion for mid-century design and architecture began while living and working in Berlin.