City pavilion for long summer days

The 2014 MPavilion has been designed by Australian architect Sean Godsell. It’s described as a new kind of clubhouse—a meeting place and a starting point from which to explore a free program of talks, workshops, performances and installations this summer.

The design brief was to build an adaptable, sustainable and temporary pavilion that could cater for a diversity of events. The demountable structure features a remotely operable façade which can be animated into different configuration and secured at night. The versatile pavilion consequently suits a variety of needs and is designed perfectly for an easy relocation to its permanent home.

Watch how the MPavilion unfurls each morning.

The entire structure is completely recyclable, from the reclaimed 19th Century woolshed floorboards to the lightweight, light-filled structure made of galvanised steel and aluminium mesh. The designers even maintained the excavated soil to produce two grassy mounds, creating an ideal space to gather and lounge north of the site.

Godsell imagined a typical country meeting place in the design. “The hay sheds and barns, shearers’ sheds and verandahs of the outback are Australia’s meeting rooms and community centres,” he says. “We congregate in these rudimentary structures and host weddings, balls, meetings about impending drought or inevitable fire. They are potent places.”

“The Melbourne Pavilion is a simple 12mx12m steel structure with glazed roof and fully automated outer skin. It provides shade and shelter and filters the harsh sun. Its precedent can be seen on distant hills and far horizons in the Australian outback.”

Godsell’s pavilion not only celebrates innovative, creative and sustainable design solutions, it also hosts a program of cultural events and activities. These free events include a workshop on December 19 by the RMIT Design Futures Lab to explore how design can help make a better future.

Check out the full program of events at www.mpavilion.org

Vale Chris Reardon, sustainability leader

Chris was the principal author of the Your Home technical manual, and has been working more recently on LJ Hooker’s Liveability initiative which won a Banksia Award last week. He also volunteered his time as an expert contributor for both ReNew Magazine and Sanctuary and a regular in the ATA’s Speed Date a Sustainable Expert series.

He designed, and trained others how to design, appropriate and low-energy homes, and most recently worked with LJ Hooker’s Liveability scheme to integrate sustainability into the real estate sector, earning him his second Banksia Award.

Australia’s sustainable homes of the future will undoubtedly serve as a lasting tribute to Chris’s tireless efforts to change the way we design and use our homes for the future of the planet.

From Goulburn, NSW, he studied architecture and began working as a designer and house builder with a special interest in sustainable buildings from the late 1970s.

Donna Luckman, the ATA’s chief executive, paid tribute to his passion for sustainable design and generosity. “Chris was always very generous sharing his time and committed to supporting the spread of sustainability in the community. He was a leader in his field.

“We will miss him. Our thoughts are with Chris’s family at the moment.”

Tuckbox

Tuckbox pieces are the creative and loving work of designer Dan de Groot, his wife Prue and his brother Ant.

For Dan, reusing timber isn’t only about repurposing something old, but paying tribute to the city’s past. “A house in Northcote, a scout hall in the eastern suburbs, a warehouse in Brunswick – it’s the fabric of the city we’re in. It’s nice to think that the timber whispers a bit of a story at night.”

Each Tuckbox piece is made locally in Melbourne’s north where Dan, Prue and Ant have set up shop. Tuckbox products can be customised to suit individual needs by personalising to desired size, finish or material. Prices from $255.

tuckbox.com.au

Giveaway

Tuckbox is kindly giving away one of their very sweet handcrafted mint Klein stools, with a ‘lozengeshaped’ top. RRP $295.00. For the chance to add one of these to your collection, subscribe to Sanctuary magazine or subscribe a friend by January 31st 2015.

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The Commons sustainable apartments win national award

Breathe Architecture took out the David Oppenheim Award for Sustainable Architecture, and the Frederick Romberg Award for Residential Architecture for The Commons at the national awards, to go with the Sustainability Award given at the Victorian Institute of Architects Awards earlier this year.

Sanctuary previewed this exciting residential development in issue 19. Read the article here.

Here’s what the Sustainable Architecture Awards jury had to say about The Commons.

Jury citation

“The Commons takes medium-density living in a groundbreaking new direction. Conceived as a flagship triple-bottom-line residential development, the project is about building an urban community and striking a balance between affordability, sustainability and liveability, where the focus is on people rather than architectural form.

Located in Brunswick, Melbourne, The Commons overflows with sustainable initiatives: instead of car parking, the building provides racks for seventy-two bikes and an adjacent car share space, as well as immediate proximity to a train station and bike path. Sustainability and affordability have been approached by reduction – no airconditioning, no second bathrooms and no individual laundries – instead, a communal rooftop laundry and sheltered drying area have been included. Materials are stripped back: no plasterboard ceilings, no chrome, no toxic finishes and off-gassing and no imported timbers.

However, this project is not just about stripping back. It also gives its residents great balcony gardens, fabulous rooftop vegie patches with wide-open views, cross ventilation and natural light throughout. Where important, top-performing products such as double-glazed thermally broken windows and sliding doors with high performance seals have been used.

Services are simple and sensible, reducing energy use and contributing to cost savings. From a photovoltaic array to a shared hydronic heating boiler and shared solar hot water system … the list goes on.

Even though it achieves an average 7.5 Star Green Star Rating, The Commons makes a clear statement that sustainability is about much more than just ratings – it is also about affordability, liveability, longevity and a great sense of community. The project nails environmental and social sustainability and is a commercial success and, with all but three of its apartments owner-occupied, it is clear that people want to live there. The Commons is a real leader and sets a brilliant example for other residential developments.”

 

 

A cool roof this summer

If you studied the average Australian roof you would be forgiven for thinking we inhabit a relatively cool continent. From poorly installed low-grade insulation to black heat-absorbing tiles, there are plenty of design elements we could reconsider to help keep our homes cool in summer.

Insulation

In terms of prioritising these design elements, “insulation will always come first,” says senior lecturer in architecture Dr Dominique Hes of Melbourne University. She recommends using renewable or recycled materials, although the type of material you use is not as important as the thermal resistance (or R-value) of that material. The higher the R-value, the more the material inhibits the transfer of heat and the better it works as an insulator. “If you look at the embodied energy analysis, putting in a good amount of insulation will always save you more energy than the embodied energy in the insulation, whether it’s plastic, glass or whatever,” says Dominique.

Ventilation

If you have attic space, ventilation is the second priority for most areas of Australia. Venting hot air from a high position in the roof minimises the heat energy transmitted through the ceiling into living spaces. Typical vents include roof plane ‘whirlybirds’, roof ridge vents, gable vents and eave soffit vents (which let air into the underside of the eave). Roof venting gives a high reduction in heat transmission for a relatively low cost.

Colour

Painting your roof white with a high albedo rating (measure of reflectivity) paint is an easy way of lowering inside temperatures without rebuilding the structure. Indeed, Dominique suggests that “white roofs are a good thing for any part of Australia”. A cool roof could make internal daytime winter temperatures cooler by reducing heat absorption, but with a well-insulated ceiling should have a much smaller impact. “If in doubt, go white,” Dominique recommends.

Read about cool roof paints, condensation, roof materials and green roofs in the full article. 

Indigenous architecture

“Aboriginal people have been here for up to 80,000 years and the climate has changed so much in that time – adapting to that is what Aboriginal culture has had to do,” says Indigenous architecture graduate Rueben Berg. “So it’s important to take on those ideas of having to adapt to new things and the idea of making the most of the resources that you have.”

Rueben and fellow Indigenous architect Jefa Greenaway’s frustration with how rarely contemporary Australian architectural practice leant on this ancient knowledge led to them establishing Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria (IADV) in 2010.

The creation of IADV is part of an attempt to better incorporate Indigenous culture into the built environment. It is also an effort to support and encourage more practising Indigenous architects, of which there are only 13 graduates nationally.

Rueben says the rich tapestry of Australia’s cultural history has often been considered ‘too hard’, “but we’re trying to show it can be quite a powerful tool, and we can use it to share stories about place so everyone can get a better understanding of Aboriginal culture.”

Rueben hopes that fostering Indigenous architecture will encourage ecologically sensitive design as one way to strengthen modern representations of the nation’s history. After all, traditional understandings of climate, rainfall, diurnal temperatures and the availability of materials were key to survival – arguably aspects which have at times been forgotten in buildings that seek to separate the natural world from interior living.

Sanctuary 29 hot off the press

Take a look at our Australian design special featuring examples of contemporary Indigenous architecture, roof design to help you cope in the heat and tips from our resident experts Dick Clarke and Chris Reardon on how to design and adapt your home for our changing climate. Transform your outdoor garden into a native edible bush food oasis, all the while saving water and eating well.

Explore a rainforest tree house in the steamy tropics of North Queensland; witness the rebirth of a destroyed Grampians settlers shack; be inspired by the quirky celebration of colour in a renovated inner Melbourne abode, and discover city living done well in Adelaide.

Our regular features once again hallmark the best in sustainable design nationwide as we celebrate locally made product designs.

So find a shady spot, relax and enjoy this summer issue of Sanctuary.

Buy your copy here.

Native bush food backyard

Indigenous Australians have long known the benefits of native plant foods, having eaten them for around 60,000 years, and it’s believed that settlers who ate bush foods fared better in the harsh climate than those who considered them inferior.

Native plants are perfect for any sustainable food garden because they are adapted to our soil and climate. The Sustainable Table, a non-profit organisation that promotes environmental food choices, says bush foods don’t need as much attention as introduced species and are able to survive through the tough variables of the Australian climate.

Planting natives at home protects them from extinction, and they don’t need chemicals, which reduces run off to waterways. They are also wildlife-friendly, nutritious, and while somewhat smaller than other plant foods because they contain less water, they are packed with goodness and flavour. Given their benefits, how can we introduce natives to our food gardens at home?

“There is huge potential for all of us to grow our own bush foods,” says native plant expert Neville Bonney. “There is enough variety to suit all soil types and many of them can be grown successfully in pots.” As with all plants, what you can grow depends on your local climate.

Herbs such as native bush mint, lemon myrtle, native ginger and the very popular warrigal greens – a native spinach – are a good starting point. “If you’re growing herbs there’s no reason why you can’t grow the native variety in any garden,” Neville says.

Astrid Gerrits, an active member of the Incredible Edible Broome gardening network, grows a range of indigenous bush foods and plants amongst her healthy supply of tropical fruits and flowers. “I decided instead of fencing and landscaping the front yard and verge to plant only native plants and trees, of which as many as I could lay my hands on are bush foods,” she says. Her rich native food garden includes the gubinge or Kakadu plum; mangarr or wild prune, jigal or Kimberley bauhinia, marul or native blackberry, desert yams and a pindan walnut.

“There are so many more bush foods that I would like to try, but they haven’t been available in the last year,” Astrid says. “In between I’ve planted flowering bushes, mostly Grevillias, to attract bees.”

Chef Simon Bryant (from The Cook and the Chef, ABC TV) says native foods have thrived in his neglected driveway where he is growing sea parsley, warrigal greens, samphire, saltbush, muntries and native thyme. “The soil has never been improved, it rarely gets watered and it gets absolutely hammered with northern sun, yet it is one of the most productive growing areas I have,” he says.

“What amazes me is the total lack of love I give these plants, however they continue to yield year after year. I can’t help comparing this with my vegetable patch which produces well enough but requires constant soil improvement, adequate water and a careful eye for common pests.”

Australia has an abundance of edible native foods to fill any water-smart food garden. Whether you’re looking to add just a plant of two to your veggie patch, or creating a native food garden, it’s important to source plants from a reputable plant nursery, as many plants have both edible and poisonous parts. Once you do, you’ll have a garden full of nutritionally rich fruit and veg that thrive during a long, hot summer.