Passive design gets more exciting by the day. This prototypical home is lightweight, affordable and easily replicated to suit a variety of climates and needs. MSG Architecture designed the project as an environmentally and economically superior alternative to traditional homes in Australia. The architect Michael Gay and his wife decided to move into the house for a couple of years as test subjects, and so far so good.
The Erpingham House is located on a 290 square meter lot near the port city of Fremantle, Western Australia. The architects used common materials, lightweight construction and passive solar design to minimize the short and long term costs of the building and speed up construction.
The solar design principles are reflected in the use of large eaves and a shallow floor plate that eliminate direct sunlight in summer and allow it to penetrate two thirds of the way into the home in winter. Windows are placed strategically to scoop in the sea breezes and channel them across the house, while a large expanse of glass negates the need for artificial light during the day. Other sustainable features such as solar power and greywater reuse can be added to the original design – depending on clients’ budget.
The house has a base floor area of 150 square meters and comprises three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a semi-open plan kitchen and dining space, living room, several useful storage spaces, and a separate studio located opposite the deck. One of the main concerns during the construction process was to minimize costs in order to keep the building affordable. “Keeping costs down was the most important challenge on this project,” the architects said. “How do we do more with less? As the client, architect and developer, we were constantly balancing the needs of good design and good economics.”
Photos by John Madden