An Architect’s Home in Sydney Is a Masterful Lesson in Sustainable Design

An Architect’s Home in Sydney Is a Masterful Lesson in Sustainable Design

By Elana Castle
CplusC Architectural Workshop’s Clinton Cole has equipped his Darlington address with a solar-panel facade, rainwater harvesting, and a rooftop garden and fish pond.

"Architecture can be more than beautiful," says Clinton Cole, architect, builder, and director of Sydney-based studio CplusC Architectural Workshop. "If we are to survive the next hundred years, a house must be ‘a machine for sustaining life,’ and it must promote those values in its architectural expression." This philosophy is carried out in Cole’s latest project, which is a home for his family of five in an inner-city suburb of Sydney.

Welcome to the Jungle House features steel-formed apertures and a planted roof.

Welcome to the Jungle House was created around an existing building and faced stringent heritage controls. Its restored heritage facade features rendered masonry, steel-framed windows, and foliage cascading out of the apertures. On the roof, steel planter beds hold fruit and vegetables.

The side elevation shows the master bedroom’s rear window and solar-panel facade.

The building’s original window openings were reframed in pre-rusted steel, while new apertures were frame with white powder-coated steel.

The roof—accessed via a ladder from the outdoor living area—is also used for composting and the cultivation of worms for a garden and fish pond, with the latter providing nutrient-dense irrigation to the planters. In turn, the native Australian plants and desert grasses filter stormwater, which is held in an underground tank and pumped back to the pond in the aquaponics system.

In another commitment to sustainability, the addition is clad with photovoltaic panels. A fully operable glass skin is inset from the outer facade, providing an abundance of light and thermal regulation while maintaining privacy.

Structural planter troughs on the roof also serve as roof beams. 

Visitors enter the home through an oversize, steel "shroud," as though climbing through one of the windows. The ground floor holds a home office, play space, and informal guest accommodations. A centrally located spiral staircase doubles as a light well, using the stack effect to draw cool air from the concrete slab and masonry walls through to the upper levels, and expelling hot air through the operable glass skin in the warmer months.

A steel-clad doorway faces staggered, vertical steel panels and a spiral stair.

The timber-clad stairwell uses the stack effect to draw cool air from the concrete slab and masonry walls through the upper levels of the house.

Laneway access opens onto a workshop area and a garage for an electric car, which connects to a battery storage system powered by the solar panels. 

Three bedrooms, a bathroom, and a laundry room occupy the second floor, with the couple’s three young children sharing bunk beds. The master bedroom is situated in the tightest portion of the site, and benefits from an oversize, timber pivot window that has smaller apertures for the option of more privacy.

By compressing the lower two levels of the home, Cole allowed the luxury of an open-plan third floor with panoramic views of the city. An interplay of light patterns animates the timber floors and creates ever-changing reflections on the glazed louvers. The kitchen, dominated by an island bench, both divides and unites the space, providing abundant space for cooking and communal meals with friends and family. As expected, the material palette features a combination of raw and industrial textures like burnished concrete, fiber-cement panels, polished and unpolished metals, and recycled timber.

The ceiling of the third-floor kitchen is the raw underside of the roof troughs above.

The master bedroom features a pivot window with smaller window openings for privacy.

The children’s bedroom has bespoke joinery designed to help the children interface with the environmental workings of the house.

"Fundamentally, this house acts as a beacon of sustainability within its community, where landscape, food, nature, garden, environment, energy, waste, water, and architectural aesthetic exist symbiotically," says Cole.

More by CplusC:

Water Slices Through This Gorge-Inspired Australian House

A Sustainable Home Near Sydney Boasts Chicken Coops, Vertical Gardens, and More

Project Credits:

Architecture:  CplusC Architectural Workshop / @__cplusc__

Builder:  CplusC

Structural Engineer: SDA Structures 

Landscape Design Company: Bell Landscapes

Lighting Design: CplusC

Interior Design: Jase Sullivan  

Cabinetry Design/Installation: BWO Fitout  

Roof Garden, Irrigation & Aquaponics: Sydney Organic Gardens 


Get the Pro Newsletter

What’s new in the design world? Stay up to date with our essential dispatches for design professionals.