Mullum Creek House

Architecture Residential Melbourne , Australia

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Description

Mullum Creek is a new residential sub-division of an old orchard east of Melbourne in Donvale. The development sits beside Mullum Creek and has a strong environmental focus with all houses having to reach a minimum 7.5 stars energy rating and have a minimum of 4kW of solar panels.

The house is entered between two simple forms which define a strong circulation path through the building. This path cranks to the north as it moves through the house to maximise passive solar performance before terminating in a large east facing window which looks across Mullum Creek into a bushland reserve. As you move along the circulation path the floor level steps down whilst the ceiling remains high, opening up the rear of the house to the sky and garden.

The connection between the house and garden is a feature of the design with connected outdoor spaces to suit a variety of functions and seasons. To the north a large deck opens off the dining area for entertaining and enjoying the winter sun whilst taking in the great views the site offers. To the east a more private deck with a spa bath opens off the lounge and has views to Mullum Creek. To the south a sheltered and shady summer courtyard opens off the dining room.

Questions and Answers

What was the brief?

Our clients are builders who wanted to produce a highly insulated and sealed house approaching Passivhaus standards for themselves. They selected Habitech for our proven thermal performance and use of state-of-the-art construction technology and integrated systems.

What were the key challenges?

The house needed to maximise its thermal performance whilst taking advantage of views to the north and east. The extent of glazing desired to best connect with the site was at odds with 7.5 star minimum requirement.

What were the solutions?

By adopting a highly insulated building fabric and high-performance PVC windows the design was able to take full advantage of the opportunities of the site whilst other houses within the development were forced to compromise on their glazed areas to comply with the minimum star rating.

The house’s thermal performance is enhanced by the use of heat recovery ventilation which helps to maintain stable internal temperatures even in extreme conditions.

What are the sustainability features?

As with all Habitech projects, sustainability was a core driver in responding to the brief, with our modular construction system delivering a super insulated and air-tight building fabric minimising the amount of heating and cooling required to keep the house comfortable. Habitech System’s modular Structural Insulated Panel (SIPs) system was used to construct the walls and roof of the house. Custom cut to size, these fast to install panels deliver solid R4.3 wall insulation and R5.0 roof insulation without thermal bridging elements and guaranteed performance.

Other sustainability features include:

• The house is orientated to the north to maximise passive solar gains in winter, with window awnings designed to optimise summer shading performance.
• The main circulation is along northern glass and is finished in dark tiles to allow the thermal mass to effectively absorb and store solar heat gains in winter.
• High-performance double-glazed windows and doors are used throughout the house to form a well-sealed envelope in conjunction with our SIPs system.
• Our high-thermal performance building fabric is highly air sealed to reduce energy loss, with fresh filtered air provided by a Heat Recovery Ventilation system.
• When the house is opened-up the design has excellent cross ventilation, including a southern courtyard that provides a shaded retreat in summer and allows evening cross ventilation.
• The house has all electric services and is not connected to fossil fuelled gas supply.
• LED lighting is used throughout the house.
• Heating and cooling are provided by high efficiency reverse cycle air-conditioners.
• Hot water is provided by a high efficiency electric heat pump.
• A Heat Recovery Ventilation system exhausts polluted and moist air from the house, while exchanging 90% of the heat in outgoing air to incoming fresh air. This is distributed through the house to provide a constant supply of filtered fresh air - without the drafts and energy penalty of having very cold or hot external air entering through windows or airgaps.
• A 4kW PV system with Fronius Primo inverter generates on-site renewable energy to power most of the houses energy needs.
• A Tesla Powerwall battery stores excess solar electricity for direct re-use in the house.
• A 20kL rainwater tank supplies water for the garden, toilet cisterns and washing machine.
• The landscaping of the house features drought tolerant plant species and wicking vegetable gardens created in raised, round concrete forms.
• Temperature loggers are currently monitoring the comfort performance of the house:
o anecdotally only the living split system has been used for heating over winter.
o upstairs maintains comfortable temperatures without active heating.
o bedroom heating not used with our clients opening their bedroom window overnight to stop overheating from body heat.

Details

Project size

332 m2

Completion date

2017

Building levels

2

Project team

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Habitech Systems