Sustainable Living

On a brisk, sunny, winter’s morning we were introduced to our client’s home in Orange, Central West, NSW. 

The home had many large rooms with quirks often found in older, previously renovated, homes. A staggered hallway meant a fragmented entry, leading to the rear 1990’s addition which was a vast and unwelcoming living and dining space. Multiple living areas were cold, cavernous and draughty. Views to the iconic Mt Canobolas were obscured. Even the secondary rooms like the bathroom and laundry were dysfunctional for the needs of a young, growing family.

A simple solution

The simple solution was to insert a courtyard into the centre of the home. This would allow warming winter sunlight into the adapted living spaces. Other spaces nearby benefit from the additional light and are consolidated so as to rationalise the previous 1990s addition.

The new component is simply a raised new room – open to the adjacent living areas, whilst oriented to capture the view of Mount Canobolas beyond.

  • Spaces for working, reading and relaxing – well organised, quiet, and basking in the warming midday sun
  • Spaces for sharing, eating and playing are more connected and now look towards the mountain, the courtyard or a thriving garden and backyard.

Adding only 20m2 additional area allowed for an additional bedroom to the home.

Timing and strategies

Very conscious of our client’s time and minimising project duration, this project was intentionally designed to fit within the allowable building envelope. Despite inserting the new internal courtyard and changing the relationship of interior spaces with natural daylight, the design purposely conformed with local building regulations (ie the allowable building envelope). This means that we were able to avoid a potentially lengthy town planning (DA) application and approval process.

Orange is a cold winter city, often with overnight frosts, sometimes snow, and clear brilliant blue skies by day. This house needed to be designed to be warm and cosy on the inside during winter, and light, bright, and well ventilated in the summer months.

Our clients’ priority was to maximise the energy efficiency of the home in order to minimise heating and cooling costs. One strategy was to specify thermally-broken window and doors frames with double glazing to minimise heat/cool transfer through the glazing – which can typically contribute up to 30% of the home’s heat gain and loss.

We were also very conscious of protecting the living spaces from any sun entry to interior spaces during the summer period. We did this by designing new roof areas to extend over the north-facing walls and windows. This provides for large eaves, specifically sized to allow shading to north facing windows and glazed doors. For higher roof areas, additional sun-shading louvre units provide the same shading effect.

In addition, high performance insulation wraps the house (including roof, ceiling, walls and floors) in high R-value insulation will provide greater protection and reduction of summer heat transfer.

Strategic Details that Support the Design and Client Requirements

Materials specified are locally sourced, like the FSC-certified Blackbutt specified for all flooring and joinery. We were also conscious of the whole-of-life-cycle for joinery materials. So instead we specified FSC-certified formaldehyde-free plywood, which has greater potential to be recycled in the future, and won’t leach toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the family home.

Project Update: We have completed the Construction Documentation stage of the project, with full architectural drawings and specifications. These are now ready for our Client to source a builder and complete their renovation. We are very excited to see the final product soon!

Project Team
Architecture and Interior Design
Cathi Colla Architects
Structural Engineer
Cook & Roe Structural Engineers
Energy Rater
Efficient Living Sustainable Building Consultants
Project Details
Architectural Services
Concept Design, Developed Design and Contract Documentation
Project Status
Construction pending

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