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Material pleasures

Material pleasures

With its concrete slab floors, recycled double-brick walls and double-glazed windows, this home has high levels of thermal comfort in summer and winter.

Fundamental house – case study

Architect: Sandbox Studio
Land size: 2 hectares
Internal space size: 60 square metres

The owners of this home are an active couple of retirees and keen gardeners, downsizing from a large family home. Their project is a secondary dwelling on their son and daughter-in-law’s property – five bush acres, 40km north west of Sydney CBD. They wanted to be close to family, but maintain privacy, so the siting/location of the little house was important: near enough to the access road, but out of sight of the main house and neighbours.

Sustainable features

Thermal comfort
  • Solar roof panels providing power
  • Double-glazed windows
  • High-performance insulation
  • Wide eaves to northern elevation
  • Minimal glazing to western elevation

Sandbox Studio used passive design principles (north orientation, high thermal mass, and cross-ventilation) to make the house liveable, sustainable and cost-effective to run.

The materials include recycled bricks and steel cladding, which addresses the bushfire code and provides character. The interior is also robust, using recycled bricks for the chimney, Tasmanian oak floorboards and ceilings and wall linings of unpainted fibre cement sheeting. Recycled spotted gum was used for the custom-made kitchen island bench and bathroom vanity. The only painted surfaces are two doors, injecting colour into the corridor.

  • Cooling: Ceiling Fans, operable windows
  • Heating: Fireplace
  • Lighting: LED throughout
  • PV system provides power for whole house throughout the year
  • Rainwater tanks for irrigation & firefighting (37,500 litres total)
  • Envirocycle composting septic tank.
  • Minimum 5-star appliances and fittings

Estimated Savings per year

Approximately $2,500-$3,000 in running costs saved per year.

Overall evaluation of comfort of the property

The building was orientated towards the north, allowing natural light into the house. The extended eaves protect the northern glazing from the sun in summer. The owners confirm the house has a high level of comfort in both winter and summer.

The ceiling fans and high awning windows keep fresh air moving, while the open fireplace easily warms the small space in the colder months. High-rated insulation was installed in the walls and roof, and double-glazed windows used throughout.

The concrete slab floors and double brick walls are warmed by the winter sun, retaining heat in the house in winter. Adjustable shading keeps these elements cooler in summer. The height and shape of the roof allows warm air to escape and encourages air to flow through the building.

If you would like your sustainable dwelling to be featured here contact Service NSW on 13 77 88.

Last updated: 27/09/2023