Outlier excursion: Corner shop turned passive house

by | Jun 22, 2021 | Designs

The Australian Passive House Association (APHA) regularly organises site visits for passive house projects all over the country – and last Saturday, we finally got the chance to visit a current construction in our area: Seymour, Victoria.

So, Anthony and I got in our cars, met for breakfast coffee at The Brewer’s Table and after, headed over to see the passive house for ourselves.

The Australian Passive House Association (APHA) organises regular site visits for passive house projects all over the country – and last Saturday, we finally got the chance to visit a current construction in our area: Seymour, Victoria.So, Anthony and I got in our cars, met for breakfast coffee at The Brewer’s Table and after, headed over to see the passive house for ourselves.

NOT EVERY PASSIVE HOUSE IS A NEW CONSTRUCTION

Brian Lowrys project is quite unique in multiple ways: 1) He is turning a former corner shop into a one-bedroom passive solar house. 2) He is turning an existing building into an Enerphit standard home. 3) He has the adjoining 2-bedroom house working against him, with single glazed windows and almost non-existent insulation.

But a building designer himself, Brian fell in love with the concept of passive houses after experiencing their benefits firsthand at a house visit. Upon entering the home, he felt a different atmosphere, thanks to highly insulated walls, thick glazing and an airtight building envelope that kept out both noise as well as extreme outside temperatures. Feeling the cold a bit himself, he embarked on his passive journey, completed a passive house course and decided to turn his old corner shop into a passive haven.

RENOVATING THE EXISTING CORNER SHOP

To get the property up to passive standard, he had to not only add a second wall with thick insulation in front of the existing house frame, but also upgrade to double glazed UPVC windows and add an HRV system.

And as is the case in any renovation, he had to work with what he got. Even though the building itself is rectangular – no complicated nooks or corners – the shorter wall is north facing. Putting in a larger window there was no option for him, as it faces right onto the street. So he decided instead to get additional lighting by adding a circular courtyard right in the centre of the home, accessible from both the future bedroom as well as the living area. Dark timber panels finish the outside cladding of the courtyard and make for a beautiful centerpiece to look at from every angle of the house.

corner shop courtyard

WHO SAID WEATHERBOARDS BELONG OUTSIDE?

Another visual highlight are the light timber weatherboards used as a design element to highlight the transitional space from the living area to the back of the house that add a distinct Scandinavian inspired feel.

When it comes to performance, the initial blower door test had a result of 2.5ACH, which was already a huge step in the right direction. The second one got him down into 1.6ACH – not enough for a passive certification, but an amazing result nonetheless.

Brian says he wants to finish the house within the next year and then eventually turn to the adjacent house and extend his renovations – and he is happy to share the progress of his passive house with anyone who is interested. So if you want to go and see this amazing passive project for yourself, feel free to reach out to us and we are happy to put you in touch!

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