A Lush Inner-Melbourne Home That Powers Itself
Snaking its way down a long residential block in Prahran, Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects has been designed around three large existing trees and an established garden.
Although the client’s desire was for a super modern house, they didn’t want an enormous home that looked like a smartphone. A key criteria was to capture the garden, as well as reflect a sense of warmth and intimacy. It needed to feel like a ‘homely’ space for a family of five, and just as easily entertain ample groups. The response from Austin Maynard Architects was to break up the main areas of the house into four smaller scale zones.
The layout is a little tricky to explain, so bear with me here!
Behind the street-facing garage and workshop is an all-purpose rumpus room, with a home office situated above. Connected to this space are the living, dining and kitchen areas, opening out to the secluded garden (and pool!), with the main bedroom and lounge retreat, en suite and an open balcony area perched on top.
Finally, a separate kids pavilion houses three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a TV room, and a netted play-stair. The separate structures are united through mirrored walkways that reflect the garden and create the impression of four independent buildings, nestled into the lush garden surrounds.
Tying together the entire scheme is the furniture, art and object styling of Simone Haag.
This clever home is completely self-powered, and its owners pay nothing for fuel or power. While the average Australian home uses 19kWh of energy per day, Garden House produces 100kWh per day, and has a 26kWh Tesla battery. The house creates enough energy to charge the family’s electric car and power the entire home (including hydronic heating, cooktops, ovens and a heated pool), has no gas connection and is fossil fuel free. ‘All power within the home is generated via the solar panel array and stored within a battery’, explains Mark Austin, co-director of Austin Maynard Architects. ‘The house has 17kWh of solar panels facing north, east and west to maximise solar output throughout the day.’ It actually produces more than it uses – and the excess goes back into the shared energy grid.
A 10,000 litre water storage tank is located under the concrete slab in the garage, and collected water is used for toilet flushing and garden irrigation.
Despite all the bells and whistles, the preservation of the existing garden is what oriented the design of this sustainable house. In some parts it literally floats above the ground to protect important tree root zones. It’s the reference point of the entire home, and is ultimately what is most celebrated in the everyday experience, including fruit trees, herb gardens, and vegetable patches that bear plenty of seasonal produce. Eckersley Garden Architecture was brought on board to further enrich green spaces, selecting plants for their resilience and water-efficiency.
The future of sustainable energy in residential homes is here… and it looks a lot like this innovative new home by Austin Maynard Architects!
The traditional owners of the land on which Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects is built are the Boonwurrung People of the Kulin Nation.