Follow the sun

This sustainably minded family home on a north-south oriented site is designed to allow the northern sun to penetrate into all the living spaces

Designed by Preston Lane Architects

From the architects:

 The brief

The home is located in the Eastern Melbourne suburb of Box Hill South. 

The original post war weatherboard house was quaint but unremarkable and the project started as a typical rear extension. 

As the brief and scope of the project developed through a series of concept designs it quickly became apparent that it was more feasible to demolish the existing house and start again. 

The brief called for a new family home consisting of 4 bedrooms, two separate living spaces, multiple study spaces, a swimming pool, as well as most importantly the ability to capture the northern sun on the deep north south oriented block.

 The house also had to incorporate the latest high efficiency heat pump technologies, solar and battery systems.

Key challenges

The main challenge was designing a double storey family house on a north south oriented site that allowed northern sun and light into all the living spaces. 

We also wanted to create an energy efficient house that did not scream sustainability.

The solutions

The house is organised into four distinct zones that allows each member of the family to have their own space, and importantly come together at different times of the day. 

Feedback from our homeowners reveals that this has been particularly successful, allowing the family to work and live together during the recent Covid lockdowns. 

The front section of the house contains the master bedroom and second living space. 

The entry is located between this and the central childrens’ bedrooms, and utilities rooms. 

The rear consists of the kitchen, dining, and main living spaces, that open to the outdoor living and pool; and upstairs contains a flexible living, study and spare bedroom. 

The design provides a clear delineation between and through each of the zones. 

As you approach the house, a crazy paved landing extends beyond two painted brick walls that leads you to the front door. 

The crazy paving continues inside through this entry space to an east facing frameless glazed window. 

The painted brick walls also extend internally and the texture of the paving underfoot and the simple tree beyond provide the sense of still being outside. 

There are a series of level changes through the middle of the house. 

These are constructed of polished concrete and oak floorboards that define each of the spaces. 

The rear kitchen and dining areas, most importantly, have an angled roof and timber lined ceiling that provides a large north facing clerestory window. 

This allows the sun to penetrate this space, and naturally expel hot air through an opening window at the high level. 

There is a small external courtyard to the north of the main living room which allows for another important north facing window. 

The window rises over four metres in height into a narrow void above the rear of the living room – bathing this space in natural light and midday sun. 

The living room also orients to the south where a large, double-glazed window provides a direct visual connection to the pool from within the house.

Owners' influence

Our homeowners – a family of four –  had an interest in good design and sought a house that was beautiful but simple, practical, and worked. 

There was a strong interest in energy efficiency, in particular solar, and battery and new heat pump technologies, from one of our homeowner's professional research work.

Striking point of difference

The most unique aspect of this project is the incorporation of a single high efficiency heat pump that provides hot water, heats the house through a hydronic system in winter as well as heats the pool in summer. 

The Stiebel Eltron heat pump is powered majority of the year from the large solar system located on the upper-level roof as well as a battery system installed in the workshop space. 

Credit list

T&S Hoar Builders
Structural engineer
MTO Engineers

Designed by: Preston Lane Architects

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Adam Gibson

15 May, 2022

Home kitchen bathroom commercial design

Latest Post

03 Dec, 2023

03 Dec, 2023

03 Dec, 2023

We know the Specialists

Related Book


We have got all the best ideas and advice to help you with your plans and ideas. 

Read More

Similar Stories