A Sleek Australian Dwelling Keeps its Cool With Passive Design

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Outside Melbourne, a light-filled residence with a private garden cuts a narrow figure to minimize solar impact.

Located in the Melbourne suburb of Bulleen, this 4,306-square-foot, site-sensitive home by local studio MODO Architecture opens up to connect with the garden and stay cool.

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The home presents a narrow facade to the street. 

The home presents a narrow facade to the street. 

By reducing the facade, which faces the strong western sun, the architects could minimize the amount of sunlight entering the building. 

By reducing the facade, which faces the strong western sun, the architects could minimize the amount of sunlight entering the building. 

On the ground floor, the house comprises a series of brick volumes. 

On the ground floor, the house comprises a series of brick volumes. 

On either side of the dining area, two sets of large sliding doors connect the house to the garden.

On either side of the dining area, two sets of large sliding doors connect the house to the garden.

Internal brick walls and polished concrete surfaces provide thermal mass that help keep the interior spaces cool.

Internal brick walls and polished concrete surfaces provide thermal mass that help keep the interior spaces cool.

White walls and fit-outs give the home a light, summery atmosphere.

White walls and fit-outs give the home a light, summery atmosphere.

The upper level features long, black metal cladding and a series of glazed links.

The upper level features long, black metal cladding and a series of glazed links.

The house is set on a sloping site, with its length running from east to west. Resisting a conventional, rear backyard, the main body of the dwelling rests along the southern boundary, wrapping around the end of the site to focus the view inward. When the sliding glass doors are fully opened, the interiors meld with the garden and timber deck.

"We are able to...take full advantage of the northern orientation, introducing passive solar design techniques, which allows the design to maximize its thermal efficiency," says MODO founder Michael Ong.

"We are able to...take full advantage of the northern orientation, introducing passive solar design techniques, which allows the design to maximize its thermal efficiency," says MODO founder Michael Ong.

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"This formal gesture is then expressed in the interior volumes," says Ong. "Every room has a subtle distinction with its use of materials and levels; each space then has its own sense of individuality, allowing each room to be connected while remaining distinct."

"This formal gesture is then expressed in the interior volumes," says Ong. "Every room has a subtle distinction with its use of materials and levels; each space then has its own sense of individuality, allowing each room to be connected while remaining distinct."

The windows are clad with exterior, motorized venetian blinds that provide some welcome shade. 

The windows are clad with exterior, motorized venetian blinds that provide some welcome shade. 

Internal brick walls and polished concrete surfaces provide thermal mass that helps to keep the interior spaces cool.

Internal brick walls and polished concrete surfaces provide thermal mass that helps to keep the interior spaces cool.

 Project Credits:

Architecture: MODO Architecture 

Builder: Seventy7 Projects 

Structural Engineer: Structify Consulting