An Eco-Friendly Home That Uses Biophilic Design Principles to Connect With Nature

The clients wanted their home to better connect with the natural environment, which could be found right at their back gate. Their property backs onto parkland in Northcote, which used to be a quarry, and then a rubbish tip.

The family of five are avid campers, enjoying the outdoors and nature whenever possible. However, with their three children growing, they needed more space to come together but also have their own space when needed. The existing house lacked a connection to the environment, which was a desire they had.

The core idea of the home was embodying the client’s affinity for the natural environment, so Ben Callery Architects looked at biophilic design. Biophilia refers to the love of nature, so incorporating nature into the home was critical instead of completely sheltering the clients from the elements.

The home features a lot of natural timbers, both internally and externally, which reinforces that connection with nature. The interiors have a sense of peace and tranquillity, using the strategy of prospect and refuge to accentuate this.

To reduce the impact on the environment, the original California bungalow was retained, despite no heritage protection preventing demolition. This maintains the embodied carbon and reduces landfills and waste. In addition, the home limits energy-intensive materials such as concrete by relying on lightweight construction wherever possible.

Fundamental sustainable design principles are used, such as passive heating and sun-shading elements to use the sun to its advantage. The home can open up when needed to help passively cool, and there is no gas, instead opting for electric appliances with solar panels to produce as much energy as possible.

Wakanui Trail House recognises that we are constantly disconnected from nature, often spending all our time in homes and workplaces controlled by machines and sensors. With that level of detachment, Ben Callery Architects wanted to create opportunities for the owners to reconnect and, in doing so, be more in touch with nature, have a more healthy life and have a lower impact on the environment.

Website article with photographs and the floor plan;

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Ben Callery Architects


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