Focus on Green Sheep Collective

Photography: Emma Cross

Get to know one of the sustainable architects coming to this year’s Melbourne Speed Date a Sustainability Expert event, Green Sheep Collective.

As well as speaking to local sustainable architects and designers, people attending the event have the chance to get free advice during speed dates with experts in areas like sustainable gardens, solar PV and hot water, green roofs and energy efficient products.

Speed Date a Sustainability Expert Melbourne is being held in partnership with Positive Charge and the City of Melbourne and is part of the Sustainable Living Festival 2014.

As Sanctuary’s publisher, the ATA, gears up for the event, we caught up with one of the sustainable architects coming along, Shae Parker McCashen the director of the Green Sheep Collective.

How and when was Green Sheep Collective started?

Shae – I had worked as a freelancer since I was at university, and had my own projects running alongside my full-time work for employers. I wanted to be able to approach architecture and sustainability in a way that included strong teamwork with all of the players involved (the project collective), and with a stronger focus on people – including being able to bring good design to smaller projects or people who might not otherwise be able to employ an architect. In 2011 I decided I would like to develop the business full time.

Are there some basic design principles that you apply to your houses to achieve sustainability goals or is it the kind of thing that might change from homeowner to homeowner?

Shae – Certainly our designs will respond to a specific brief from the client, and this can bring unique, exciting elements to the design and the approach to sustainability. However, in common with all of our designs is the application of passive solar design principles and site-specific design. This should always include an excellent quality of light, cross ventilation and a strong connection with the outdoors.

Further, we find that creating homes and spaces that have a high level of flexibility to them can greatly enhance the inherent sustainability of each home, ensuring the home can accommodate changing lifestyles and the family make-up of the home over time so people can live in the spaces over the years, without the need to move homes or renovate just because a teenager moves out, a mother needs care for a short time, or another child comes along.

Have there been any favourite projects along the way – what were they and why?

Shae – My favourite projects tend to be those where the clients are really engaged in and excited by the design process, and where we collaborate with the builder from early on in the design process. These aspects tend to push the design to a higher level, and allow an efficient, fun and smooth design and construction process.

A couple of specific favourites would include:

– ‘Smart Home’, since it really packs so much functionality and design into a small space.

– ‘Northcote Solar Home’, because the clients have been so excited by the design and we worked with the builder, Elyte Focus, from early on. There is a great trust between all parties, and good teamwork towards a common goal.

Sustainable Terrace Image: Emma Cross

Green Sheep Collective

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Up to 60 per cent of the water used in an average home is used outside.

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