Leading by example

Issue 31 Words: Rachael Bernstone Photography: Dion Robeson
Metro Perth
  • Joe Chindarsi has used his own house in North Perth as an exemplar in sustainable design and technologies.
  • The striking North Perth home has a bevy of architectural tricks which create a sense of space and light.
  • An energy-efficient Bosch induction cooktop makes use of the house’s 5.9kW solar array on north- and west-facing roofs.
  • Reverse brick veneer combined with lightweight timber-framed construction and phase change materials were used in the upper levels for thermal mass.
  • Kitchen cabinetry is Tasmanian blackwood veneer, with a brass mosaic recyclable tile splash back.

As well as being an architect, Joe Chindarsi is a pioneer of new technologies. His latest home in North Perth is an exemplar of modern sustainable design.

Architect Joe Chindarsi uses his own homes as an opportunity to explore the limits of possibility, and his latest iteration in North Perth is no exception. “When I built my first home for myself 12 years ago, I installed a small 1.4 kilowatt photovoltaic system that was leading edge at the time (it cost $16,000 from memory),” he says. “With this home I wanted to continue that trend.”

The new house is on a subdivided block – just 207 square metres in size – but it feels expansive despite its dimensions, thanks to Joe’s bevy of architectural tricks. The ground floor comprises an open plan living space with high ceilings and upper level voids, and opens on to an outdoor courtyard. Using the same finishes for the floors and walls inside and out enhances the sense of space. Upstairs, two bedrooms sit either side of a central living area, and all three rooms benefit from saw-tooth roof profiles.

“We used polished concrete on the floors – for thermal mass and to create an industrial-type feel – and the saw-tooth roof profile ties in with that aesthetic,” Joe says. It also performs multiple functions that help keep the house comfortable all year round: the saw-tooth windows can be opened to vent out warm air in summer, and they allow diffused southern light into the whole house, which minimises electricity consumption and protects the owners’ collection of art, which adorns the walls in every room.

As well as being designed with passive design principles at front and centre, the house has several technological add-ons that enhance its sustainability credentials. The saw-tooth roofline is angled to the north and west faces to create a much larger viable surface for solar than a regular pitched roof, and is covered with panels that comprise a 5.9kW system. Joe also installed a battery array to store energy generated during the day for use overnight, though the house is connected to the grid for backup power.

After making such a significant investment – including time, money, resources and human capital – to get the design and build just right, Joe and Andrew plan to settle in for the long term. “We take the view that we will be here for a while, but if we do sell it prematurely, the person who buys it will see the value in a small home that is highly specced and very sustainable,” Joe says.

“It’s not a home that would appeal to everyone – it’s not a typical family home – but it’s self evident that the things I’ve done mean lower running costs, negligible ongoing costs, and minimal maintenance. It’s an amazing lock-up-and-leave house.”

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Cover of Issue 31
You can read more about Leading by example in Issue 31 of Sanctuary magazine.

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Joe Chindarsi, Chindarsi Architects


Castleprime Construction


New build


North Perth, WA


Land 207 sqm

House 240 sqm


8.5 Stars

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