Thursday, March 22, 2012

New cabinetry and driveway

The front fence has gone in, using recycled hardwood and galvanised steel. With a lively dog and a small boy, this makes the front yard more useable. The driveway, formerly permeable recycled concrete and brick gravel, has been replaced last week with concrete. The hard surface makes it easier for tricycles, bicycles and balls.
New cabinetry where originally intended in the Living Room
New Dining Room cabinetry in clear hoop pine ply.
New sideboard to Kitchen breezeway with detailing to match kitchen - clear and stained hoop pine plywood.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Summertime in the ecohouse

The house has passed the test in summer, without airconditioning, thanks to cool breezes and thermal mass. Mosquitos and other blood-suckers which share the riverfront site with its human residents have driven the need for insect screening.

A new, enhanced landscape plan is underway and the recycled (concrete and brick) gravel driveway at the front of the house will be replaced with a hard surface so that the youngest resident has somewhere to ride his bike and throw a ball.

Additional storage is being added - a necessity for a full, family house.

The river level subterranean Media Room has become a weekend home for a friend who works out of town. The lower level was designed so it could operate as a separate dwelling as needed.
The slot of sunlight from the Dining Room above and the corner window provide sufficient daylight - so much so that the ceiling slot is covered for morning sleep ins.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mid winter visit

Courtyard and Dining roomGlass slot to lower Media Room filled with sunshine Dining/Play room

It's been some time since the last visit to the ecohouse. The bananas by the pool are now huge, as are the bamboo-type grasses across the fence. The house has taken on a personalised feel now with family bits and pieces and an eclectic mix of furniture. The youngest member seems to have taken over the best places: the sunny courtyard and sun-filled dining room.

The garden is awaiting its new-improved makeover to reduce maintenance for the residents. After that, we hope use of the greywater and rainwater will be highly used. With all of the technology in the house, hiccoughs do occur. It seems that one of the water switching devices has failed as the house has been drawing on town water rather than the full rainwater tanks recently - soon to be fixed.

The subterranean "Media Room" has become a very tranquil bedroom with warming sunshine spilling in through the glass ceiling slot.
Post-occupancy analysis of energy use has shown that with a family of 5, energy consumption is higher than originally estimated and exceeds the daily energy generated by the solar panels. However, with the paperwork finally sorted out with the energy supplier, the owners should now be earning money from their solar panels during the daytime.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Flood photos

The floodwaters are well documented in the aerial shots on Nearmap .

Here are some other photos from the owners at the height of the flood and soon after....
Brisbane River water slowly clouding up clean pool
View from terrace out past pool to river
Door to lower hallway, protected with ply, plastic and sandbags
Protection to lower bedroom door and window
Lower bedroom from hallway

Many have asked how the house survived so well in the floods. The lower floor was always designed with the assumption that flooding would occur at some point. Here are some of the design considerations which assisted:

  • There was no built-in furniture downstairs (most vulnerable to flood damage).

  • Most walls are of rendered blockwork with cement render and limewash finish which is extremely durable and when cleaned down as the waters subsided was virtually unmarked.

  • The small amount of lightweight walls (only 2 in this level) had recycled hardwood framing (very dimensionally stable) and was sheeted in Powerscape which is a highly water resistant plasterboard alternative (and very high recycled content). Paint finish to these walls was water-based acrylic which cleaned down easily – only minor damage was where water got under the enclosed stair and its pressure caused one small corner of the paintwork to lift off.

  • The internal doors were veneered solid core doors and on one of the doors, the ply started to delaminate, though this damage is far less than would have occurred if the doors had been typical hollow core construction with a cardboard core and mdf outer.

  • The stair was solid timber so would have swelled with moisture but has dried out now.

  • Floors are all of polished concrete so very easy to clean

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Floods and Mud

High water mark on blockwork
Brisbane has just gone through the worst flood since 1974 and the ecohouse being on the river, had front row seats. Fortunately it survived the flood well, despite the waters coming inside half a metre up the walls on the river level. The owners cleaned as the waters subsided and apart from a damp base and slightly swollen timber doors, it looks relatively unscathed.Necessary safety gear
Knowing that the future was likely to hold many extreme weather events and sea level rising, we selected materials for the ground floor which could survive inundatation. I was pleased to see that they did surprisingly well. The Powerscape wall sheeting was completely intact. Only the paint in two places seemed bubbled (water in understair storage coming from behind the paint) and some taping to a joint. Wall cavities may be a different matter, if water got into wiring but cosmetically, the river level spaces and terrace looked good. The limewash finish looks like it survived the grime and hose down relatively unblemished.Paint lifted from pressure behind in store room.
The world's best ecopool changed colour slowly during the floods from clear green through cloudy blending to Brisbane River brown. Lots of wildlife appeared as the waters rose: two snakes, many spiders moved indoors and the bush turkey chicks have become familiar with the living room. Unfortunately as the house has no power, the rainwater and treated greywater cannot be accessed, despite the solar panels (a battery bank needs to be added) but the owners have clean townwater and gas for cooking.

For more flood photos, see my picassa photo sitePlants are growing crazily with the huge rain and new desposits of silt.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Best eco swimming pool in the world

The modest swimming pool at the ecohouse has just won gold in the international swimming pool awards in Las Vegas for pool builder and designer, Stuart Bevan, of Stuart Bevan Pools Pty Ltd. He was awarded the top prize for Residential Pools - Green Applications from GAVA (Global Arkitecture Visionary Awards).
The plunge pool is minimal in size due to site constraints (riparian zone at river bank and narrow block) and environmental considerations. It uses an efficient pump/filter system. With galvanised reinforcing and a thicker than normal concrete shell using recycled additives of fly ash and reactive magnesium, the pool is built for durability. It is finished internally with a pebble coating of local stone (minimal transport costs) which is long-lasting and easy to clean. At night, the pool is lit with locally-made LED lights.

The 15,000L (approx) pool is filled and topped up with rainwater and a flexible and moveable outlet hose allows flexible distribution of waste water over the garden area.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Home sweet home

The new residents are settling into the house, adjusting to the change from a grand old Queensland to a sleek new home, and finding places for their belongings. Some technology glitches are being ironed out but the garden has been well watered with all the recent rain, the tanks are full and the owners are enjoying their new space.

The front garden's strawberries which fruited at completion of construction are fruiting again, much to the delight of the local bush turkeys and the owners' son.
The water tank beneath the courtyard is full and ready to be used on the garden and pool when the weather dries up.Mint and native violets are filling up between the pavers outside the Laundry and Kitchen.The pool is enjoyed for a dip after kayaking on the river.

Monday, October 18, 2010

BPN Sustainability Awards

Emma Scragg was fortunate to be able to attend the BPN Sustainability Awards and received the award for "Single Dwelling - New" on behalf of Riddel Architecture. This is really an award for all those responsible for achieving such a thoroughly sustainable building - the dedicated building team, Robert Peagram Builders, our unwavering clients, the Riddel Architecture team (most staff helped out at some point over the 5 years) and all the consultants and suppliers that helped complete the picture.

Thank you to everyone involved.Emma receiving award from sponsor Daniel Strebel from Geberit