- Melbourne Design Studios (Architect, ESD Consultant & Interior Designer)
- Melbourne Homes of Distinction (Builder)
When design makes a positive impact on the user, it becomes relevant far beyond the individual.
This design wants to set an example and investigates how we can live better and healthier in an inner urban environment.
Once we achieve that, we can use this example to help stop urban sprawl and focus on positive densification instead, by making suburban life better.
However this project starts small, with a typical inner suburban house site of 500 sqm. It’s a simple but beautiful dwelling, a design that wants to inspire and help create a better world.
“Biophilia.SlateHouse” is a family-home, designed on the principles of nature, craftspersonship and environmental design. It interacts and engages with nature, the essence of Biophilic design.
Below the strong monolithic slate form, the ground floor plan interweaves with nature, meandering out and in, carving two courtyards, at once grounding the house in the garden and drawing the garden back into the house.
The building invites the adjacent park into the garden, borrowing natural vistas and extending the backyard, whilst embracing its wider contextual surroundings. Urban food production, green roofs and integrated planters create additional intimate connections with nature.
The reality of the setting means we are dealing with typical suburban streetscapes, rather than pure nature. Nonetheless, each space offers intimate views and engagement with natural surroundings and vegetation, via courtyards, gardens, green roofs, and planters.
Natural light, ventilation and direct sunlight give a profound sense of diurnal and seasonal rhythms. Borrowed views of gum trees from the adjacent park give the feeling of being immersed in nature, blurring the reality of the suburban setting.
The strong vernacular form upstairs, created by traditional slate cladding, ties the house beautifully into the suburban streetscape. standing out without dominating the street.
The design brief asked to create connections, promoting healthy and sustainable living, and prompting Biophilic Design as a response.
Research has proven how a deep connection with nature such as that benefits occupants’ health and well-being, including stress-reduction, and improving cognitive function.
“Biophilia.SlateHouse” is a well-proportioned, high-tech, sustainable home. Despite its natural materials palette, it seamlessly incorporates future technology like full home automation, or an integrated substantial solar PV array forming an integral part of the design.
The family home as a built outcome inspires, relaxes and calms busy minds, thereby transforming the residents’ lives.
Typically, in Victoria heating accounts for 75% of house energy demands. This house was designed to maximise passive heating, reducing active heating demand to nearly zero, while utilising large glazed areas, high levels of insulation, dark colours and thermal mass.
In summer, subsequent cooling demand is addressed with efficient heat pump technology powered by a large solar PV array, cooling the home using 100% renewable energy at no cost. Excess energy generated cools the concrete slab, effectively turning the slab into a battery for renewable energy storage.
The highly sustainable biophilic home re-thinks the typology of the suburban house.
A holistic sustainability concept integrated seamlessly into the design :
1. Green roof and planters enhance biodiversity, mitigate heat island affect , reduce stormwater runoff
2. Re-used materials, natural materials, Low-VOC materials. Biophilia – a deep connection with nature to benefit occupants’ health and well-being
3. Passive solar design – Highly insulated, thermal mass, active + passive shading, high performance windows, courtyards for ventilation and deep solar access
4. Home Automation assists a sustainable lifestyle, eg. Alarm raised when switching on AC while window is open
5. Innovative Heating/Cooling strategy via solar PV and heatpump technology maximises free solar energy, designed to be net zero.