This is a project by Zen Architects and it is located at Melbourne, Australia. There are four images for Northcote Flexible House.
The project is an alteration and extension to a family home. A solution was presented that met the client brief while suggesting an alternative to the traditional way a family home might be operated and inhabited. The design is important to sustainable architectural practice, as it demonstrates that a well designed, sustainable, modern family home is achievable in inner city suburbs, within the constraints of a family budget, planning regulations, a heritage overlay, and limited site size.
The house demonstrates innovative use of space to maximise living areas and storage, and creates exciting spatial volumes. Instead of providing every space in the brief individually, the solution reduces the building footprint by providing easily operated, highly flexible spaces, and maximising the use of existing and new volumes to cater for a range of uses.
The method was successful, as the required functions were catered for, while reducing the consumption of materials, energy and money. In addition, the garden area has been maximised and internal spaces are allowed to stretch to outdoor living areas and the garden, connecting users to the outside environment via views, light and natural ventilation.
There was a focus on sustainably sourced and re-used materials. Much of the existing structure was retained, demolished materials were re-used on and off site, and appliances were re-used. The engineering design minimised the use of steel. Sustainably sourced, radially-sawn timber decking, flooring and fencing reduced waste, and natural ‘lino’, carpets and underlays, low emission paints, and ply wood cabinetry all contributed to reduce off-gassing.
Rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling have been fully incorporated, minimising storm water run-off, and use of mains water. In addition, all outdoor areas are permeable, to assist in watering the garden, and further reduce run-off. Water-efficient showerheads and appliances further reduce waste. Existing vegetation assists to retain water on site, and landscaping incorporates indigenous and drought tolerant plants.
Living spaces are oriented to the north, thermal mass naturally heats and cools the building, and double glazing and high levels of insulation reduce heat transfer. The high ceiling uses a ‘stack effect’ to collect and remove heat via clerestory windows, and openable windows throughout facilitate cross ventilation. Sun penetration to west windows is controlled with external blinds, operable shutters, and a shade sail, and north windows are shaded in summer months via eaves and fixed louvres. The ceiling form bounces light into a living space through an internal window that would not otherwise have received natural afternoon light. In addition, the building form allowed for retention of solar access to adjacent properties.
To achieve maximum impact, the clients were educated on how to operate the building to best utilise passive heating and cooling and reduce water use. On site composting, worm farm, clothes line, secure bike storage, solar hot water with gas boost for hydronic space heating, zoning for heating, and ceiling fans all act to further reduce energy consumption and waste.