Winning Homes Show Path to Sustainable Living


If there is a trickle-down effect from architecture awards to broader design to mass housing, our future homes will be more tailored and more sustainable.

Winners of the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2018 WA Architecture Awards celebrate the local landscape and lifestyle while mitigating against the harsh elements. The gallery of prize-winning buildings celebrates materials and natural tones, space and light.

The awards, presented at St George’s Cathedral in the city on Friday last week, honour excellence in the design and construction industry.

Suzanne Hunt is the WA president of the Australian Institute of Architects. She says the breadth of entries is notable.

“What I saw this year which was different, more obvious, was the real diversity of big projects and smaller projects,” she says.

“When we design houses we’re looking at the period of time the client is living there ‚Äî five, 10 or 15 years or they want to age in place.

“So the type of houses that we design ‚Äî and I saw this at these awards ‚Äî were really specific to the brief and to the client.”

Neil Cownie’s Roscommon House won an Architecture Award for new houses and was also awarded in the interior architecture category.

Ms Hunt says architects are able to design a home’s interior and are well placed to create it in concert with the exterior.

“We want a space to be beautiful inside and outside,” she says. “Architecture and interiors, particularly in residential, are a very holistic product. The outside architectural design ties in really closely with what’s internal.”

The awards have a category for sustainability but Ms Hunt says it’s a consideration in all entries.

“They were all sustainable, they were all trying to capture northern light,” she says.

Michelle Blakeley’s Yalgoo Avenue was given the Architecture Award in the sustainable architecture category. She says the success of the project was due in part to the design and in part to the building system. Blakeley worked with Brian Guinan, of EBS Builders, using prefabricated timber-frame technology, membranes and stringent insulation and sealing to control temperature and energy use.

A Building Code of Australia Section J Report is required when applying for a building permit or Construction Certificate. It shows how the proposed building complies with the relevant Energy Efficiency requirements of the Building Code of Australia.

The Yalgoo Avenue house achieved a rating of R8.4 and Ms Blakeley is optimistic a future project can hit R9.

In keeping with Ms Hunt’s view that sustainability is not an added extra, Ms Blakeley says she has never believed in “sustainable architecture”.

“Sustainability and energy efficiency and thermal comfort are just part and parcel of all the things any architect should be considering when they design a building,” she says.

“It’s becoming more naturally a part of the design process for architects. For quite a long time ‚Äî not so much from architects but from the owners ‚Äî there seemed to be that it was going to cost more money, to design a sustainable, energy-efficient house.

“That’s not the case any more.”

Article by Melanie Coram | The West, July 2019

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