Jenny's House

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Location | Wright, ACT

Date completed | Feb 2017

EER | 8.2 stars

Area | 150 m² 

Builder | 360 Building Solutions

Awards | 2018 HIA Australian GreenSmart Sustainable Home of the Year – Winner

2018 Architecture & Design Sustainability Award for Single Dwelling, New - Finalist; winner announced Oct 11

2017 Master Builders Association ACT, Custom Built Home Less Than 150m² - Winner

2017 HIA ACT/Southern NSW, GreenSmart Energy Efficiency Home of the Year - Winner

Images | Ben Wrigley (#1-16 November pm) Rachel Clements (#17-23 June am)


The inland family beach house

This compact 4 bedroom, 150 m² house is situated on a skinny, 405 m² block, with north to the street. It uses excellent solar passive, and space-efficient, design to overcome its potential floor area and aspect challenges. The home has no heating in the living areas and bedrooms and only a 600W far-infrared heater panel on the ceiling in each bathroom. The only form of cooling is a ceiling fan in each living area and bedroom. The first electricity bill for the four-person home showed that its energy use for the autumn quarter was just 65% of that used by a typical ONE-person household in Canberra.

This is the new home of Light House director and scientist, Jenny Edwards, and her family. Jenny's family includes partner David (a home-based writer), two teenage boys, a visiting uni-student daughter and Zac the very social and photogenic hound. The family home regularly hosts visiting grandparents and interstate friends and despite its compact size has already handled a weekend with 8 people in residence with ease.

Jenny and David's brief was for a 3 (sometimes 4) bedroom family home with a small footprint, an 8+ star energy rating and great outdoor areas. Also noted as essential were a variety of internal spaces where different family members could work on their computers, play their guitars, socialise and separate when needed (we all know that need arises). 

Jenny grew up by the ocean and doesn't get away to the coast nearly as often as she would like. She was determined to create a home that felt like a beach-side getaway. While she can't quite hear the waves in the distance the house certainly has a relaxed, aquatic feel.

You can view the floor plan of the house here but note it does not show the terrific study nook and sitting space to the east side of the dining area (nor does it show the long skinny block). You can also read more about how it is performing thermally in our online journal.

Landscaping is nearly complete and in the next few weeks pergolas will be built over the northern deck, western courtyard and small eastern deck off the main bedroom and laundry. Each of these pergolas will incorporate a mix of fixed-angle timber louvres and wires to support ornamental grapevines to ensure that the home is beautifully shaded in summer while allowing winter sun to wash right in. More images to come soon.


Key Design Features & Influences

4 bed, 2 living, 2 bath, 2 outdoor entertaining areas

Sitting space and study nook off the kitchen dining space making a very active social hub

405m² relatively flat, long skinny block with north to the street

Single, secure carport (doubling as extended outdoor entertaining area/ping pong arena) with timber (Blackbutt) battens to allow northern light to penetrate.

Floor finishes: un-coloured burnished concrete to living areas, lime-washed bamboo to bedrooms, ceramic tiles to wet areas and kitchen splashback.

Tailored to the tricky block to maximise solar passive gain over winter and ensure adequate shading over summer. Computer simulations used to optimise the size and position of windows and shading devices specifically for this block, climate and design.

Designed to the client's brief and budget using our Light House Modular approach


Sustainability Features

8.2 stars (predicted to require < 50% of the energy needed to heat and cool a 6 star design)

Air tightness of 3.3 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals – 5 to 8 times better than most Canberra homes; achieved using standard timber-frame construction methods ie. no special air barrier membrane was used, instead ceiling penetrations were minimised and attention to detail was used when lining the house with plasterboard.

Thoroughly insulated building envelope – R6 to the ceilings, R2.5 to the external walls, R1.5 to internal walls, R1 to the slab.

Cupolex recycled plastic dome concrete slab system – requires less concrete and creates an air void beneath the slab; R1 insulation was laid beneath the domes and against the vertical edge of the slab.

Vapour permeable membrane used to wrap the outside of the timber frame in the walls and roof – this taped membrane reduces air movement across the insulation and allows any water vapour in the wall and roof spaces to escape.

Ventis Sub-Flow system (yet to be commercialised) – in cooler months this takes hot air from the  roof space (which gets really hot even in winter due to Canberra’s sunny days) and pumps it into the air void below the rear, southern, bedroom-end of the slab to provide extra heat under the floor.

Sanden hot water heat pump.