Growing old, inexpensively

VAST, high-angled ceilings and clerestory windows make architect Peter Adamson’s sustainable Lyneham home feel huge but, as he says, it’s actually got a modest footprint and has been designed to touch as lightly on the environment as possible.

“Thanks to design features such as double-glazed windows, polystyrene cladding, pergolas, eaves, a grey water system and carefully considered ceiling heights and placement of windows, the house costs barely anything to run,” he says.

The 7.5-star home, designed by Peter and entered into the Australian Institute of Architects awards, uses the slab-on-ground as the primary mass, so that it doesn’t require air-conditioning in summer and very little heating in winter.

“The slab is insulated on all sides and, as the ground is constantly putting out a temperature of 13 degrees, in summer the slab absorbs heat and keeps the home cool,” he says.

“In winter, the sun is the main source of heating using charcoal tiles, and we have hydronic heating, which is designed to turn itself on when required. It’s very energy-efficient.”

Peter, who shares the home with his wife Jacqueline and son Jack, 14, has also designed the house with accessibility in mind, with the help of a special consultant.

“This is the last building I hope to design for myself, so I have designed it to be accessible in case I’m ever forced to live in a wheelchair,” he says. “All the doors are wider than standard, which is cheaper to do from scratch than altering later. The bathroom is designed with plywood walls so bars can be screwed in later if needed.

“We want everything in the house to be low-maintenance and inexpensive, but to last the distance,” he says. “It doesn’t need any upkeep now, which is the best thing about it – I don’t want to be thinking about fixing up my home as I get older!

“We love it; it’s a fantastic place to live. We feel we can grow old here.”

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