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Enjoying the long Antipodean summer days without sweltering in the heat calls for a novel approach

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When building in a hot, arid climate, the sun is always going to be a major factor in the design of any home. A combination of glass, concrete and brick, coupled with an efficient floor plan, has ensured this particular home doesn't sacrifice design for practicality.

Unlike its neighbours, the home is set back nearly twice the distance of existing houses in the street and as close to the side boundary as building codes would permit, which architect Simon Rodrigues says serves a double purpose.

"Siting the home in the rear corner of the property has allowed for larger garden areas. This positioning also allows for plenty of morning light when the heat is less intense.

"Access to the property is via the rear, so this location also made for maximum convenience when entering and leaving the home," says Rodrigues.

The simple rectangular shape of the home was designed to mimic that of the land. This design minimises wall surfaces facing either morning or afternoon sun, once again keeping the home cool during summer.

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Conversely, large areas of glass on the side of the building and a concrete slab floor extending outside take advantage of the lower winter sun and act as aheat sink.

The home is a conventional two-storey arrangement with the living areas on the lower floor and the sleeping areas on the upper floor. However, that's where the link to convention ends, as the home is somewhat atypical in relation to the surrounding properties and to prevailing notions of contemporary taste, says Rodrigues.

"I decided on exposed brick, primarily for maintenance reasons, yet over the past several years there's been a move towards painted or rendered brick."

A concrete suspended floor for the second storey is another innovation that has a practical application. Concrete is known for its increased thermal properties, allowing the home to remain at an even temperature throughout the day.

Outside, the property has been landscaped to include a number of trees, adding privacy from the street and further shelter from the sun, without obstructing the owners' view of the park opposite.

Another energy-efficient element of the home is the roof, says Rodrigues.

"The roof has been double insulated, making the ceiling cavity a very efficient insulator. All heat exchange is carried out at the ceiling level."

Increasingly, homeowners are looking at ways in which to increase the energy efficiency of their homes without sacrificing the overall aesthetics, says Rodrigues.

"There is a growing appreciation in the marketplace, amongst lay-people, for energy efficiency.

"Architects have been incorporating these elements into their designs for years as good design principles, which themarketplace is picking up on," he says.

Indeed, the homeowners were very conscious of making the best use of materials and current practice in the design of the home.

"The city gets a lot of sun and a prevailing sea breeze, so right from conception the idea was to capitalise on those aspects in the design and execution of the home," says the owner.

Originally, the owners had considered moving into an apartment, but believe they have achieved the best of both worlds.

"The home is a third smaller than our previous one, so it has all the attributes of an apartment without any of the commonly associated problems, like diminished air flow and natural light."

Simplicity of design and an attention to detail have ensured the owners have a home that fulfils all of their requirements without the need to make concessions.

"In this location, on this block, there is nothing I'd do differently – we've elicited every positive we could out of the home."

First published date: 11 October 2006

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Credit List

Architect Simon Rodrigues, RAIA, Simon Rodrigues Architect (Perth, WA)
Main contractor Jim Nabbs Homes
Window and door joinery Capral from Exclusive Aluminium
Window and door hardware Gainsborough from Architectural Design Hardware
Window furnishings Comal
Tiling Cercom and Keope from Original Ceramics
Flooring Marazzi tiles from Original Ceramics
Lighting Lightingales
Heating Jetmaster from Fireplace Corner
Kitchen designer Simon Rodrigues Architect
Kitchen manufacturer Harley Cabinets
Kitchen cabinetry Laminex in Chalk White and Mist Grey
Benchtops Caesarstone from Marble and Cement Works (WA) Pty Ltd
Splashback, tiles Gloss white tiles from Original Ceramics
Oven, hob Miele
Microwave Panasonic
Bathroom cabinetry Laminex from Harley Cabinets; Caesarstone from Marble and Cement Works
Tapware Novelli Linea from Beri Distributors
Furniture Katsui