Fraser Street in Australia by Breathe Architecture

This extension and renovation of a Victorian structure by Breathe Architecture is a stunning modern transformation that makes me want to have a glass of lemonade on that deck. Immediately. Fire up the grill.

From the architects:

The primary objective behind this design was to achieve a sustainable, inner city house for an small family within a minimal footprint. Through the spatial reordering of a single story Victorian terrace and new eastern extension, this design allows the building to function efficiently as a family home. With a diminutive site of poor orientation, we used these obstacles as drivers for a design solution in which passive solar design and highly sustainable outcomes provide an exemplary sustainable home in an urban setting.

Opening the eastern side of the building to provide more living space enabled the kitchen and living areas to be reoriented to the courtyard, while the roof draws northern light into these new spaces through clerestory windows running the entire length of the addition. Awnings to the northern windows and eaves to the highlight windows allow winter sun to enter the building and exclude harsh summer sun. The north facing skillion roof is designed to allow winter sun to penetrate into the living areas and heat the southern wall; while maximising sunlight and reducing the need to artificially illuminate the spaces below.

Acting as a thermal mass element, the brick party wall captures the sun’s heat and radiates it back into the living areas throughout winter. A hydronic heating system has also been installed which when preheated by the winter sun, circulates its heat throughout the house.
New operable highlight windows to the North and sliding door to the East funnels breezes through the building for natural cross ventilation. The operable highlight windows extract warm air collecting at ceiling level, preventing the need to install air conditioning. All new windows have been double glazed, while all new external walls have a dual layering of insulation batts and foilboard to maximise thermal performance. Similarly, all new internal walls and ceiling cavities have been insulated where possible.

The small scale of the addition ensures a high efficiency of space where heating, cooling, maintenance and lighting are all kept to an absolute minimum. 12% of the floor area has been given over to storage and bike parking, creating a place for everything and ensuring the livability of this little house. This includes bespoke clothesline, bike, pram storage and toy storage under seating and built in BBQ. Reuse of the existing dwelling and cohesion of building form with interior management including lighting, heating and cooling systems similarly increases efficiency for an enduring sustainability.

The key to the environmental success of this building was in the size – by keeping the house single storey and designing in every aspect of the brief into this tiny footprint, we were able to give a family of four a functional, comfortable, beautiful, sustainable home within 93m2.
Although the existing terrace received no northerly light – the roof form of the addition opens up to the north to flood the previously dark home with natural light and winter sun.

Through the combination of passive solar design and ventilation strategies, low embodied energy materials, and by taking advantage of contemporary sustainable technology, the impact of this building is reduced while achieving maximum occupant comfort.

Project: Fraser Street
Completion: December 2009
Architect: Jeremy McLeod
Company: Breathe Architecture
Photography: Courtesy of Breathe Architecture

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.