“Homeowners often quit at the first sign of complexity or budget escalation when building a self-sustaining home,” says Clinton Cole, principal of CplusC Architectural Workshop, a design-build firm based in Sydney, Australia. But Geoff Carroll and Julie Young are different. To them, growing vegetables or tracking daily energy consumption aren’t chores to be outsourced. They’re part of living an environmentally responsible lifestyle. Both have senior positions at an Australian data analytics software company that helps clients confront the challenges of hyper-urbanization and climate change. With Cole as their architect, they wanted to create a home that reflects their
work in sustainability.

But their building, a 1980s terrace house in the inner suburb of Alexandria, suffered from poor thermal performance and a distinct lack of outdoor space. Cole’s first recommendation to Geoff and Julie was to tear it down and start fresh. Once demolition was done, he suggested a few critical ideas, including reducing the number of bedrooms from four to two, carving out an internal courtyard, putting the staircase at the front of the building rather than in its former location at the back, and converting the carport at the rear of the property into a permaculture garden.

The new green spaces serve both aesthetic and practical purposes. The garden at the base of the half-cylinder glass and timber-battened staircase introduces plants into the warm tones of the interior. Likewise, says Cole, “The insertion of the courtyard meant we could pull apart the solid mass of the traditional terrace house, so that light and air are able to circulate.”

The courtyard’s full-height, vertically retractable doors operate via a rack-and-pinion crank that is designed to support more than 1,000 pounds with the assistance of a dangling concrete counterweight. A rain chain passing through the concrete weight channels rainfall into an underground tank, where it is stored for use in the laundry, toilet, and garden.

The rear garden features an aquaponics system for fish harvesting, a wicking bed to help with drought resistance, a compost system, a vegetable garden, and chicken coops. “It’s a very intensive environment, inspired by our interest in permaculture,” says Geoff. “Our garden feeds us, we feed the chickens our scraps, and they give us eggs plus fertilizer for the garden. In a similar way, the fish deposit nitrogen in our pond, which feeds the bacteria on the clay beads in our vertical garden, which feed the plants that filter the water in a continuous cycle.”

The home is also remarkably energy efficient. Using an evacuated glass tube solar system for hot water and a 1.5Kw photo-voltaic array for electricity, it produces, on average, more power than it consumes.

While the home is hooked up to the city sewer and water and electricity mains, Julie and Geoff depend little on outside sources for necessities. But one wonders: How hard is their household to maintain? “A well-designed system largely looks after itself,” Geoff replies. “The sustainability systems save us time and effort.”

Modern home with Staircase, Wood Tread, and Wood Railing. A cylindrical glass staircase with Western red cedar and painted steel mullions dominates the front of the house.The stair treads, along with the floor, are made of recycled spotted gum. Photo  of Aquas Perma Solar FirmaView Photos

A cylindrical glass staircase with Western red cedar and painted steel mullions dominates the front of the house.The stair treads, along with the floor, are made of recycled spotted gum.

Modern home with Exterior, Concrete Siding Material, Wood Siding Material, House Building Type, and Stone Siding Material. The gate leading to Geoff Carroll and Julie Young’s rebuilt terrace house in an inner suburb of Sydney, Australia, holds an array of succulents, signaling what lies within:  a greenery-filled home that includes a central courtyard, vertical gardens, aquaponics and rain filter systems, and even a chicken coop. Architect Clinton Cole of CplusC Architectural Workshop led a team of collaborators in revamping the property. Photo 2 of Aquas Perma Solar FirmaView Photos

The gate leading to Geoff Carroll and Julie Young’s rebuilt terrace house in an inner suburb of Sydney, Australia, holds an array of succulents, signaling what lies within: a greenery-filled home that includes a central courtyard, vertical gardens, aquaponics and rain filter systems, and even a chicken coop. Architect Clinton Cole of CplusC Architectural Workshop led a team of collaborators in revamping the property.

Modern home with Outdoor, Gardens, and Garden. A counterweight pulley system makes easy work of lifting the large glazed walls flanking the courtyard. Photo 3 of Aquas Perma Solar FirmaView Photos

A counterweight pulley system makes easy work of lifting the large glazed walls flanking the courtyard.

Modern home with Kitchen, Pendant Lighting, Medium Hardwood Floor, Drop In Sink, Wood Counter, Wood Cabinet, Wall Oven, and White Cabinet. In the kitchen, an island on casters hides a trio of tables that can be configured in multiple ways both indoors and out. Photo 4 of Aquas Perma Solar FirmaView Photos

In the kitchen, an island on casters hides a trio of tables that can be configured in multiple ways both indoors and out.

Modern home with Outdoor, Grass, Gardens, Garden, and Side Yard. Cole worked with two landscape companies, Sydney Organic Gardens and Pepo Botanic Design, to create the plant and vegetable gardens and other permaculture features. Photo 6 of Aquas Perma Solar FirmaView Photos

Cole worked with two landscape companies, Sydney Organic Gardens and Pepo Botanic Design, to create the plant and vegetable gardens and other permaculture features.

Modern home with Office, Desk, Medium Hardwood Floor, Shelves, and Chair. Upstairs, a breezeway is used as  a workspace. Metal and glass louvers by Maxim bring light and air into the master bathroom. Photo 7 of Aquas Perma Solar FirmaView Photos

Upstairs, a breezeway is used as a workspace. Metal and glass louvers by Maxim bring light and air into the master bathroom.

Credits

Posted By
Architect
  • CplusC Architectural Workshop
Photographer
  • Murray Fredericks