Greener grand designs

Issue 21 Words: Sarah Robertson

Grand Designs host Kevin McCloud speaks to Sarah Robertson about valuing the energy invested in every well-designed thing.

There’s no doubt that Kevin McCloud, the host of British home design TV show Grand Designs, has celebrity status in Australia. His programs are repeated here to an enthusiastic audience, and Australia is the one country with its own Grand Designs offshoot, hosted by architect Peter Maddison. Not to mention the crowds that flocked to Grand Designs Live events in Melbourne and Sydney this year.

It’s generally recognised that part of McCloud’s appeal is that he’s not an architect. However, with university training in history and architectural theory, he communicates design principles clearly, without condescension and with real enthusiasm. Passion and excitement about design practically ooze from McCloud, whether you meet him in person, watch him on television or hear him speak.

What advice does he have for people planning to build or renovate? Like many Australian professionals promoting sustainable design and living, he reiterates that it is about building homes that are appropriate and that respond to their environment.

Some things you’ll take up, some things you’ll discover actually give you more choice and more pleasure and perhaps provide more happiness.

First and foremost, good design is considered, he says. It makes the most of using appropriate thermal mass, orientation and natural ventilation. “You do all these things and the building starts to behave organically because it responds to its environment and those rhythms in the environment – the sun, the moon, the wind, the breeze, the rain, it collects water, it keeps you cool, it keeps you warm. It starts to actually harness the environment and look after you in the process by providing the resources you need.”

Many people are now passionate about sustainable design and living. McCloud, for his part, has communicated their stories and is working to quash the myth that a greener future involves giving things up or compromising on good design. “Some things you’ll give up,” he says. “Some things you’ll take up, some things you’ll discover actually give you more choice and more pleasure and perhaps provide more happiness.”

Image above: Glenn Dearing

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Cover of Issue 21
You can read more about Greener grand designs in Issue 21 of Sanctuary magazine.

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Sanctuary: modern green homes is Australia’s premier magazine dedicated to sustainable home design. More...

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Composting toilets can be installed in boats, motor-homes, regular homes and sheds built on concrete slabs.

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