Hill End Eco House, a 6 star energy rated sustainable home located in inner Brisbane, was constructed almost entirely with recycled materials from the house it replaced.
Designed by Riddel Architecture in collaboration with Robert Peagram Builders, the self-sufficient Eco House was built in 2010 using 95 per cent of the existing building materials from the 19th century timber Queenslander cottage that originally occupied the riverfront site.
The design of the 260 square metre home was highly influenced by the subtropical Queensland weather with openings maximised to capture cool breezes, sun and daylight.
The three-storey house is connected by a gallery that spreads breezes and fresh air into every interior space, with large windows providing views of the surrounding river landscape and reducing the need for artificial light.
“A painstaking deconstruction process resulted in just two small skips of non-reusable materials being discarded. All additional materials were locally sourced and have undergone rigorous assessment of their environmental, social and economic sustainability credentials,” the architects said.
In addition to recycling materials from the existing house, Riddel implemented a number of sustainable initiatives such as active systems for on-site water treatment and storage, and photovoltaic cells. Materials were selected based on their recycled content, low embodied energy, durability and low toxicity. Whenever possible, they were locally sourced and manufactured.
The dwelling is entirely self-sufficient in terms of both water and heating power, and has a monitoring system capable of measuring energy, gas and water consumption as well as its interior temperature and humidity.
The north-facing roof features photovoltaic panels that generate 15 kWh/day, which is enough to meet the house's requirements.
A central courtyard divides the house into two distinct spaces, with the northern portion facing the street and the southern space overlooking the Brisbane River. At either end of the spine connecting the two areas, a solar chimney captures daylight and takes warm air out of the house through high-level openings.
Both the north and south sections function separately and can be set up to include areas for sleeping, living and working, giving the house the flexibility to accommodate a nuclear family, several generations of one family or even a home business. On the upper floor, at the northern end of the site, two bedrooms can be connected through views to communal spaces via operable timber louvers.
The main floor of the southern portion holds flexible living and dining spaces which can be adapted to meet the inhabitant’s needs according to seasonal changes. The living/dining area facing the central courtyard features a concrete slab floor and an external reverse-brick-veneer wall to offer a warm, sun-filled living room in winter and a cool dining room insulated from the sun in summer.
In addition, a 60,000-litre rainwater storage tank supplies the entire house and garden. Exterior sunshades and window treatments moderate sunlight and heat.
“Appliances were sourced to support local industry and reduce energy-miles. With sustainability at its core the Ecohouse holds a 6-star energy efficiency rating and is self sufficient without sacrificing its aesthetic beauty,” Riddel Architecture explained.
“We were dedicated to creating the greenest home possible without compromising style. The idea of deconstructing a previous property to create something new was really exciting to us. We are pleased with how the house manages to fuse beauty with eco facilities.”