Off Grid FZ House

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  • 2022

  • Architectural

Designed By:

  • Anderson Architecture
  • Simon Anderson

Commissioned By:

Kim & Simon Anderson

Designed In:

Australia

Nestled in Blue Mountains bushland, Off Grid FZ House acts as a premium benchmark for sustainable living under extreme conditions while coexisting with nature. The modest, highly resilient home is BAL-FZ rated and net zero emissions, self-sufficient in power, water and sewage. It celebrates innovative sustainable design and Australia’s landscapes.


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Image: Nick Bowers
Image: Nick Bowers
Image: Simon Anderson
Image: Nick Bowers
Image: Nick Bowers
Image: Simon Anderson
Image: Nick Bowers
Image: Simon Anderson
  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • The primary challenge - and appeal - of the project was the remote location engulfed by dense bushland. The site was deemed BAL-40 & BAL-FZ (Flame Zone), and with lacking access to services, safety and technology were crucial. The dwelling is resilient to future impacts of climate change, including being able to withstand temperature extremes from subzero to over 40 degrees Celsius, and even cope with FZ conditions from bushfires that may impact the home. Balancing the design objectives with the stringent building codes to ensure a low cost, bushfire-resistant home, which retained as much of the surrounding bushland as possible, was paramount.

  • The outcome is BAL-FZ (Flame Zone) resilient and net zero emissions, with the greatly reduced carbon emissions produced during construction being offset with carbon credits. The highly durable dwelling is designed to withstand extreme conditions and the test of time, constructed with minimised embodied energy and continuing to require zero operational carbon emissions. The home is self-sufficient in terms of power, water and sewage. It fosters a connection with nature and also closes up when outside conditions are unfavorable. Extensive bushland is maintained to support and foster biodiversity, and any trees that required removal are reused within the house

  • The home's modest footprint ensured minimal trees were cut down, and the largely self-sufficient nature of the home has resulted in an increased awareness around power and water usage (and no operational energy bills). A deep connection to nature at differing scales positively contributes to the mental well-being of occupants, for example through native gardens dotted around the dwelling and prospects of lush bushlands both near and far. The impact stretches beyond the occupants and immediate environment though, as the home is opened on occasion to architects, academics and community members to improve understanding around sustainable architecture in extreme conditions.

  • Clever design strategies ensured costs were minimised throughout the construction process and beyond into post-occupancy. The occupants' needs are met with a modest building footprint and any timber requiring removal from site due to bushfire safety regulations was reused on site. The combination of sustainable strategies incorporated in the dwelling ensures zero operational energy and hence zero costs. This premium architecturally-designed dwelling proves that it is possible to achieve the highest bushfire resilience level while keeping costs low. The high impact products in the dwelling are the high mass foundation and walls, predominantly composed of concrete, as it is the main construction material encouraged to be used to meet bushfire regulations. Consequently, the concrete components are optimised for passive solar heating and cooling to reduce the energy required for climate control. This was partly offset with the low carbon cladding and decking. There were minimal carbon emissions produced during the build, so these were offset 70t/CO2 using carbon credits verified by Pangolin Associates. While the double-glazed aluminum BAL-40 windows are a weak point in the thermal envelope and in terms of bushfire threat protection, external screens and internal thermal support from honeycomb blinds bolster these spots.