Stylish 'Passive Solar' Aussie Home Stays Comfortable All Year Round With Minimal Cooling Or Heating

Image: Ben Hosking & Adrian Bonomi

Summer's just getting started in Australia and if you haven't already sorted out a robust cooling solution, now might be the time to, er, build an entirely new house. Alright, alright... that's kind of unrealistic. Unless you're the retired couple that commissioned this slick number, which uses a "passive solar envelope" to deliver electricity-free cooling.

The brainchild of Victorian architect Adrian Bonomi and built from "natural materials", the summer beach house is located in Somers, Mornington Peninsula. The "passive-solar" design means only limited use of active cooling and heating systems is required to stay comfortable:

The large verandah maximises outdoor living in colder months while ample shade during the hottest months keeps one comfortable in the heat. Reverse brick veneer construction and a carefully crafted passive solar envelope provides a very comfortable and stable internal living environment.

Image: Ben Hosking & Adrian Bonomi
Image: Ben Hosking & Adrian Bonomi

The house itself is made from timber, plywood and recycled brick.

Image: Ben Hosking & Adrian Bonomi
Image: Ben Hosking & Adrian Bonomi
Image: Ben Hosking & Adrian Bonomi

What the heck does "passive solar" mean? Good question.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar design because, unlike active solar heating systems, it does not involve the use of mechanical and electrical devices.

Understandably, it's simple to start from scratch when constructing a passive solar dwelling, though "existing buildings can be adapted or 'retrofitted'".

So, yeah, if you were looking to whip something up for this summer, you might be a bit late.

[Adrian Bonomi via Inhabitat]

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    It's taken 10 years but planting of deciduous trees on north side of house has totally paid off. Best way of keeping cool.

    I don't deny for a second that appropriate design can help minimise the amount of energy a house may use but to have a house with acres of single glazing and to imply that it doesn't need much energy (relative to other houses) to heat/cool is a bald-faced lie.

    Passive solar should be COMPULSORY in this country! It would save a fortune every single year.

    But no, we'd rather spend money on HVAC for no good reason :(

      On its own it achieves little. You need: great insulation; heat sinks; educating the users to not open doors and windows at the wrong times; very well built buildings; being able to face the sun; reduce people's desire for 70 square metre living rooms...

      Bit hard to do when many Councils allow block sizes as small as 250m^3 in suburban built-up areas...

        Even 10 years ago, we had to add eves to our house plans (at least on the north and West sides), as the default builders plan did not include them.

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