double gable HOUSE (2017)
GEORGE STAVRIAS, ilari lehtonen, FAITH FREEMAN
FIDO PROJECTS: contractor
Nick Bishop ESD: sustainability consultant
ABDEC group: building surveyor
THE DOUBLE GABLE HOUSE IS A MULTIGENERATIONAL DWELLING THAT RESPECTS ITS CONTEXT, ENGAGES WITH ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD AND EXPRESSES ITS OWNERS’ INTEREST IN SUSTAINABILITY AND REQUIREMENTS FOR LOW-ALLERGEN LIVING AND ENERGY-EFFICIENCY.
Passive design (north orientation, thermal mass floor, optimised shading, crossflow ventilation and heat stack effect)
Use of recycled materials (timber posts, timber lining boards, light fittings)
140mm stud walls for higher levels of wall insulation
Above-ground rainwater tanks
All electric house with 5kW solar system and electric heat pump operated hot water and hydronic heating system
low allergen material selections
The Double Gable House is an energy-efficient multigenerational dwelling on a quiet street in an inner suburb of Melbourne, a home for grandparents, their son, and his family of three.
With the grandparents living downstairs and the son’s family upstairs, the Double Gable House presents itself to the street as a single dwelling, while simultaneously allowing for separation and connection between the two halves of the family.
The client’s requirement for recycled and low allergen building products allowed us as the designers to work with the builder to refine and expand our knowledge and understanding of the various products and technologies available on the market. Where practicable, all construction materials including timber products, paints, oils, glues and sealers were specified to have low volatile organic compound content, with the client testing a number of products during the design process in order to gain an understanding of their impact on indoor air quality.
Along with input from ESD consultants, early involvement of the contractor, Fido Projects, further facilitated the design process by allowing construction advice to be incorporated into the development and documentation of the design. Early contractor involvement also enabled the contractor to develop a relationship with the client prior to works on site, and this is evident in the attention to detail, the refinement of recycled building materials, and the understanding of the low allergen requirements.
At the street front a pair of distinct hardwood fascias of the dwelling’s gabled roofs suggest domestic life behind the front façade of the house. The double gables respect and reinforce the residential scale of the surrounding neighbourhood. An additional gable in the form of a light pergola structure signifies a secondary entrance along the side of the house to the young family’s private upstairs area.
To the north of the living areas a pergola of recycled Australian hardwoods, meticulously detailed by the contractor, acts as a scaffold for the client’s espalier fruit trees, allowing the building to become an active participant in the client’s burgeoning interest in permaculture.
Recycled building materials also feature internally in the home office facing the street, with recycled pine lining boards salvaged from the original dwelling on the site running up the walls and cathedral ceiling to meet at its ridge, giving the room a warmth required for the client’s Alexander Technique sessions. Other items saved from the claws of the demolisher included a range of light fittings. A brass pulley-light, refurbished by the contractor and suspended from the recycled pine ceiling, retains the memory of the owner’s old house.
Two-tone polished concrete floors conceal an electric heat-pump-operated hydronic heating system that regulates internal temperatures. The heat from the ground floor permeates up to the first floor to warm the whole dwelling and direct current ceiling fans with reverse switches allow warm air to be circulated at low speeds even during cold weather.
140mm thick timber stud frame walls with vapour permeable wall wrap allow a high level of insulation to be installed within the walls, helping to mitigate any heat transfer through the building elements. Extensive northern glazing at ground floor allows for passive heating of the thermal mass of the concrete floors during winter months, and optimised eave design and above-ground Colorbond rainwater tanks along with the recycled timbers become physical markers and visual cues of sustainability principles at the heart of the design.
A springtime Permablitz initiated by the clients and attended by a number of new friends served the role of a housewarming for the Double Gable House and its permaculture garden. The Double Gable House is an example of a multigenerational dwelling that respects its context, engages with its neighbourhood and expresses its owners’ interest in sustainability and requirements for low-allergen living and energy-efficiency.