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Project Overview

2016 – Residential 10 Star / PassivHaus / Family Home – Total Net area approx 306 sqm

Can a house have no heating or cooling demand and still offer the Australian Dream?  Well of course it can, just ask us !

This highly ambitious project aims to bring super-efficient, healthy, sustainable homes to the Australian masses.  So good in fact, it received a commendation in the annual BDAV 10 star Sustainable Challenge competition.

Project Brief & Design Response

The brief for a spec home from our builder/developer client in a new estate in Werribee sounded fairly typical to start off with : An open plan, four bedroom house, two living areas, indoor-outdoor living, with an abundance of appeal.  However there was a twist – No heating or Cooling!

Knowing that energy efficiency and sustainability can sometimes compromise good design, our clients wanted something that was expertly designed, appealing and sellable to the mass Australian market – our ’10-Star Courtyard House’ was born.

Design Response

The Australian way of life revolves around indoor-outdoor living.  To bring the outdoors inside and the inside out was one of the core approaches in this project.  The house is designed around a central courtyard garden which integrates with an open plan living area – enabling the central family space to extend into the garden, and the garden into the house.

Zoning is paramount to this design, with service areas to the south, and living areas to the north.  The public zone of the house is at the front and centre, leaving the rear of the house as a private wing for north facing kids bedrooms and a master bedroom suite.

To achieve zero heating and cooling, a number of additional passive solar design strategies were used, of course. The house is super-insulated to keep the heat in or out.  It is super-airtight leaving no paths for draughts and unwanted heat transfer.  These measure, together with meticulous detailing and perfect placement of windows and shading, enable this house to function in summer or winter without heating or cooling.


No heating and cooling – that’s a great start, but there’s actually a lot more to it. A roof top solar PV array sized to produce 105% of the running energy of the house makes this house a net carbon positive home. Water usage and management in these new developments is also a pressing issue.  All stormwater in this project – even from the driveway – is carefully considered and is fed into a huge water tank, overflowing into a raingarden that attenuates and filters the stormwater, thus reducing the impact of flooding and pollution.

Material selections are based on the approach to help create a materials economy that is non –toxic, ecologically regenerative, transparent and socially equitable.  Materials are being sourced locally where possible, with certified declarations of what is in them, where they are from and how they have been produced.


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