Passive Thermal Design in the Inner City, Fitzroy North

Imagine  – an opportunity to build an inner city sanctuary – a contemporary design incorporating passive thermal design, north facing living areas and garden, within the convenient location of  inner city, Fitzroy North.

This proposal combines due respect and acknowledgment of the history of the existing cottage and streetscape, whilst resolving key client objectives, with a lateral and unique design response to achieve passive thermal design.

For many people living in inner city homes, the lack of space and natural light is often a significant problem, and frequently a primary driver for a renovation project. Dealing with the existing building and statutory planning are next on a typical briefing checklist. Now, place another, even bigger challenge on that briefing list – achieving best practice passive thermal design – and you really have a design challenge ahead.

The brief for this commission called for a contemporary residential design – one that deals with a typical inner city residential renovation and additions, plus the long term benefits of passive thermal design. Our client’s brief, and a relatively generous corner site in Fitzroy North, has allowed for quite a lateral solution to our client’s requirements for a contemporary, modest sized, sustainable three-bedroom home.

Yet there is a bonus – an added extra. This is the creation of a courtyard style home. A courtyard home enables optimum use of outdoor space, and increases opportunity of natural daylight to internal areas. This scheme contradicts the typical (dark) terraced residential typology, and yields light filled living areas, surrounding the ‘outdoor room’ courtyard borrowing light from the north and the east.

The design resolution benefits from having access to the site on three boundaries. The resulting resolution provides double-storey accommodation located at the rear of the site, comprising of ground floor living areas and garage, first floor bedrooms above, with green roof and deck over. The cottage remains at the front of the site as a nod to history, providing a formal frontage and entry to the home, with living areas within the front, and at the rear of the home, for future flexibility of use, for a growing family.

Linking the two primary building components at the front and rear, is a glazed linear kitchen. Each zone looks to, and integrates with, the central garden – yielding a significant outdoor living area and private oasis.

Alterations and additions to this home include:

  • Creation of a city sanctuary within a convenient inner city location.
  • New home component located at the rear and west of the site (with new living area facing north, to central garden).
  • Adapt existing cottage to suit future flexible living arrangements.
  • Passive solar design opportunities to minimise future reliance on mechanical heating and cooling.
  • Green garden spaces to enable vegetable yielding gardens.
  • Green roof – to increase thermal performance.

The primary sustainable design principles for this residential project include:

  • Retain existing building fabric to acknowledge the history of the site, and heritage requirements.
  • Compact efficient floor layouts.
  • North facing living room and upper bedroom.
  • High thermal mass to ground floor, plus significant levels of insulation to walls and roofs.
  • Sun shading to north facing windows and doors to control solar access to internal areas.
  • Minimal east and west facing windows to reduce summer heat loading.
  • Windows to south side of home to enable cooling cross breezes throughout the home.
  • Vegetable yielding garden areas.
  • Rainwater harvesting for garden use.
  • Photovoltaic panels, and gas boosted solar hot water service to roof.
Project Team
Cathi Colla Architects
Interior Design
Cathi Colla Architects
Project Details
Architectural Services
Full Architectural Design, Documentation and Contract Administration Services
Project Status
Planning Permit (pending)

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