It’s easy to see how this very centered home got the nickname “Zen House.” Officially known as the North Carlton Green House, the design offers an oasis of green living in the urban desert of Melbourne, Australia. The owners’ desire to connect to nature through landscaping, architectural form and sustainable design practices has created a beautiful abode. Easily flowing between the boundaries of built and natural environments, indoors and outside, the Zen House stays perfectly balanced with a tiny ecological footprint.
Zen Architects designed this sustainable home, and integrated vegetation and light to create a lush environment for the clients. Many sustainable elements went into the design, like passive heating through north oriented windows and a courtyard. Before you get all up in arms, let’s remember this house is in Australia, where they direct their houses to the north. Just a reminder for any aspiring architects from the Northern Hemisphere – if you intend to design for anything south of the equator, orient towards the north.
Deciduous plants were used for shading in the summer, and passive cooling was accomplished by cross ventilation and a “thermal chimney” through a two story void. A solar hot water system and hydronic heating system provide internal heating, coupled with high performance insulation and double glazed windows.
Rainwater is collected from the roof and put into storage tanks. Both rainwater and grey water are used in the 35 square meter (375 sq.ft.) garden. An additional rooftop garden provides even more outdoor space and insulation for the home. The garden even has a high tech automated irrigation system that waters the subsurface to minimize water lost through evaporation.
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