Smart House is a renovation and extension to a two-bedroom single-fronted timber Victorian cottage in inner Melbourne. It utilises a wide range of social, healthy, environmental and passive solar design principles and products to create a high-level environmentally sustainable home that is also modestly-sized and affordable.
We aimed to create a project that achieves: An outstanding, affordable home: It was important to us to create an example of best-practice environmentally sustainable design that is both achievable and affordable for many Australians.
This project faced a number of critical challenges that had to be overcome in order to meet these sustainability and design targets. The constraints included overshadowing, poor orientation, and a small 7.5 metre wide east-west block built close to the boundary. The existing home was dark and leaky with a lean-to at the rear.
We needed to demolish the lean-to and create a whole-home solution that connected existing home with new renovation while improving the thermal performance of the home as a whole. We had to modify our clients’ initial brief for the second storey to achieve sustainability (and budget) targets.
Our clients were unaware of the environmental, spatial and fiscal costs of ‘going up’: the additional space required for the second storey to house the staircase and associated circulation spaces; ‘hidden’ costs for labour, scaffolding, insurances, materials, engineering, and design to accommodate overlooking legislation; heating, cooling, cleaning and maintenance requirements and ongoing costs, and so on.
Our response creates interesting volumes for architectural beauty, and minimises idle space by ensuring the floor plan is utilised to its full capacity through clever storage solutions and split level living. The single storey addition includes open plan living, dining and kitchen opening via large openable glazed doors to an outdoor deck.
A mezzanine over the pantry and study nook utilises the volume created by the cathedral ceiling, while large openable skylights increase the perception of light and space, and double as ‘thermal chimneys’ to assist natural ventilation processes in summer. Storage is integrated into built-in dining seating, while the study can easily be closed off by operating a large sliding door. The mezzanine stair is also integrated into this space, where it can slide in and out of a bookshelf.
Brick planter boxes are located directly outside windows to bring the garden closer to the Smart House, and allow for a herb garden directly outside the kitchen window. This smart storage combines with beautiful material selections, natural light and exciting form to transform the cottage into a high performance, healthy, and comfortable modern residence.