sustainable heritage

John and Caroline had not long owned a Heritage listed Victorian terrace house in Millers Point NSW that had not been touched for decades. The house was too cold in winter and was worn out after previous years of negelect, so they wanted to subtly transform their home into a better performing, more sustainable one.

Inner urban green

The design of the house is an example of how sustainable intitiatives can not only be sympathetic to heritage requirments, but how they can enhance and enrich the lives of the occupants. The project required some lateral thinking by the Architect on how to make a 130 year old house very comfortable by:

- moving towards a totally electric powered house with maximum photo voltaic panels on the roof and carefully selected energy efficient appliances, fixtures and lights

- draft sealing the house by adding secondary glazing to the existing windows and doors and installing approrpiate new glazing where required

- installing high performance insulation in the roof space

- creating a restorative food producing garden that acts as an oasis in the city

The existing two room basement had significant damp issues, so the Architect chose to open up these two rooms to enable the flow of light and ventilation between the two spaces. The definition of the two original rooms was maintained by the use of differing materials, biodegradable and practical Marmoleum on the kitchen floor, set off by the original timber floor boards of the dining area. The layout of the rest of the house was otherwise largely unchanged, with the ground floor comprising two adjoining living areas, two bedrooms on the first floor and a further bedroom and bathroom in the attic space. The sustainable initiatives used in the house include, re-using reclaimed materials from the demolition, zero VOC paints and finishes, water and energy efficient fittings and appliances, a heat pump hydronic heating and hot water system, 2.4kW photo voltaic system and 4000 litres of rainwater storage which is used for toilets, the washing machine and the garden. The backyard of the house was significantly improved. What was previously a tight space with a collection of old structures is now an open urban oasis with a shaded entertaining deck, outdoor bathing area and vegetable garden. The majority of this new area was built using reclaimed and recycled materials, bricks were recycled from the demolition work for paving and gabion garden walls, recycled railway sleepers were used for the decking and reclaimed timber cladding from the demolition works were used for the new outdoor bathing area and storage space.

John and Caroline's house was built in 1887, so it is 130 years old, which is sustainability in itself. With these subtle renovations, the house should be here to be enjoyed for another 130 years.

Architect : PIDCOCK - Architecture + Sustainability