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Project Overview

Year : 2012
Type : No-Bills Home (10 Star Passivhaus)
Size : Approx 145 sqm

No more energy bills – how would you like that?

As Certified Passive House Designers, we have designed this contemporary family home to be energy positive, i.e. over the course of a year it generates more energy than it would use. Building an energy positive house means you can start billing your energy supplier, rather than the other way around! Isn’t that fantastic?

So how does that work?

Starting mostly with good design based on passive solar principles, and some clever tricks added into the mix. The foundations are simple :

(1) Create a comfortable living environment, that uses little or no energy to heat or cool, and

(2) Create energy to offset the little bit that you are using, or for positive gearing.

In this house, living spaces and bedrooms are facing north, thereby using free and everlasting solar heat to make it nice and cosy. A services and amenities ‘block’ along the south side acts as thermal buffer. Almost following modernist traditions, these two distinct functions (living and services) create the architectural form.

Project Brief

Inspired by a design competition, the ’10 Star Challenge’, we set out to exceed the requirements of the NatHERS 10 Star. The aim was to create an energy-positive friendly family home, guided by European PassivHaus standards.


Design Response

Balancing social, economic and environmental sustainability has been the driver for the modern design. Combined with the contemporary form and simple material palette, this results in a beautiful and truly sustainable home.



Our approach to this project is simple : build smaller – build better. Compact, space efficient design and ideal orientation mean that we can build to a higher specification for the same dollar amount. Less is more, and clever layout warrants that you are not missing out on space. A high performance building envelope, efficient conditioning systems with heat recovery ventilation, and renewable energy technologies combine to create the energy neutral home, ergo : No utility bills for the occupants of the house.


Large north-facing windows, capturing light and shadows, and warming us on a cold winter’s day. Living spaces and bedrooms harness heat from the sun in winter and exclude it in summer. Thermal mass and good insulation, together with adjustable sunshading and cross-ventilation, help maintain a comfortable interior. Following passive house principles on top of the passive solar design approach takes the dwelling to the next level. High-performance windows, ensuring the building is airtight, MHRV and Thermal-bridge free construction limit energy use further. A raingarden on the roof filters stormwater runoff. Active ESD systems like Solar Hot Water, GeoThermal and Photovoltaics take the house from energy neutral to energy positive.


Client's Comments

“This contemporary design has very interesting street appeal… Social sustainability has also been incorporated thoughtfully into the design with a mix of communal and private indoor and outdoor living spaces. Traditional building materials were specified for the build with detailed specification of sustainable and low-toxic materials. Despite its small footprint of just 145 sqm, the space-efficient design doesn’t compromise on functionality and caters well for everyday living.”


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