The Snug converted a run-down Californian Bungalow into an energy efficient, comfortable and healthy home. The owners, a professional couple committed to sustainable living, wanted to achieve an affordable but highly functional home that significantly increased energy efficiency, connected them to the garden, and expressed their love of design.
The challenge of this design was to balance the three key outcomes of affordability, environmental responsibility and comfort. The existing house was dark, ‘inward looking’ and poorly insulated, but it was crucial to keep as much of it as possible to minimise costs and the significant embodied energy associated with new material use. Thus, the design needed to excel in response to the site, connect the inside spaces to the garden, substantially increase energy efficiency, and add additional programming without drastically altering the existing building footprint or having an adverse effect on neighbouring amenity.
Rigour was applied to the material selection, creativity brought to the reconfiguration of the existing home, and restraint shown in the design approach. This resulted in a design that wastes no space and makes no compromise. The highly efficient floor plan has just 7% circulation space and provides ample amenity including three bedrooms, two bathrooms and spacious living areas within just 117m2, an overall increase in floor area of 18m2. Green accredited materials were selected to minimise negative impacts on the environment and human health and reduce consumption of non-renewables. The result is a resource efficient, comfortable and healthy home.
Compared to the average new Australian home, The Snug will save the equivalent of 753,000km worth of car exhaust emissions, 848 years worth of drinking water for 4 persons, and $226,000 in construction and energy bills over its lifetime. The home was also upgraded to improve environmental performance, achieving a 77% reduction in heating and cooling loads. In maintaining the existing structure, The Snug saved significant amounts of embodied energy, an achievement that would be undermined if it was renovated again in the short term. Therefore, any impact is multiplied by The Snug’s enduring design and positive spaces.
A comprehensive site analysis, including shadow studies, informed the passive solar design strategies. Some of the key strategies implemented include the repositioning of living areas to the north; the introduction of cross-ventilation via openable windows; thermal mass positioned to receive the winter sun, the installation of north eaves and operable shading to the west; as well as the inclusion of appropriate insulation in both the new and existing parts of the home. In addition to ensuring excellent natural cross ventilation and stabilised thermal comfort to the whole home, abundant natural light allows the owners to grow indoor plants that remove pollutants by filtering the air to reduce toxins and VOCs. All materials and products used in the construction of The Snug were researched and selected to create a healthier indoor environment. Preference was given to paints, oils, sealants and glues that are made with renewable raw plant materials, and are recyclable, biodegradable and emit no harmful substances. Ultimately, The Snug delivers a beautifully sustainable home on a modest budget. The custom design is meticulously executed, from angled ceiling junctions to intricate cabinetry. This reinvigorated building will provide positively for its owners well into the future.