Folio Flashback: Sustainable House, Malvern

This house is one of my most memorable projects! I was Project Architect for this place, as a Graduate Architect, whilst working at ‘Habitus’ Architecture & Environment in Melbourne after graduating from university back in 2003. I worked closely with the director, Laurence Robinson, on this house, and he was an inspiring mentor throughout my time working at ‘Habitus’.


Custom designed ‘security’ door

These are the words we used to describe the house in our entry to the ArchiTeam awards the year the house was completed:

“The clients asked us to produce a sustainable home of outstanding architectural and environmental quality in a neighbourhood of conservative character. The form of the house was carefully composed and articulated to respond directly to the scale and forms in its immediate context – it is located behind the shopfront buildings along Glenferrie Rd, Malvern. Whilst distinctly different from its residential neighbours, it sits well within the overall streetscape.


Street frontage and neighbouring homes

While the passive solar potential is limited by its size and orientation on the site, at the time it was designed (2003) it scored around 30 points in FirstRate, which put it well above the maximum of 6 stars (at the time, 6 stars was the maximum that FirstRate would calculate).

Materials were chosen for their natural texture and colour to avoid the need for applied finishes, thus reducing maintenance and use of chemicals. All timbers were either recycled, or sourced from sustainably harvested forests. External timbers were radially sawn to increase resource efficiency.


Composition of radially sawn timber, galvanised steel, and split-face concrete block.

Inside the house, the ground and first floors are white polished concrete, and most walls are face concrete block increasing the thermal mass and stabilising the internal temperature and providing maximum acoustic isolation between rooms.



The internal detailing meets the guidelines of the Asthma Foundation for minimising allergens. The ground floor of the house including all toilet and bathroom areas, were also designed for disabled access.


Powder Room, designed to be wheel-chair-accessible for future

Apart from some specialist task lighting, all fittings in the house are low energy fluorescent fittings. The house is fitted with a solar hot water system, grey water outlet to garden areas and underground rainwater collection tank connected to the toilets, washing machine and garden-taps. Outside, the native garden is designed to minimise water use. It was hoped that the house will use less than 40% of the average water use of a similar sized household.”

The project was a big success, thanks to the combination of great clients who were sustainably minded but also willing to think outside the square and were willing to plan ahead for future use, excellent builders who are master craftsmen and also damn nice blokes (thanks Jules and Enio from Gande Constructions!), and a top team in our Architectural office. As one of my first big projects after graduating, it was certainly an outstanding experience for me to begin with…the bar was set high for future sustainable homes!

I’m looking forward to sharing some more of the buildings I’ve worked on in the past…so stay tuned!

Talina x



  1. Susan Nethercote on February 24, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing this Talina- I’ve been dying to see some of your work! Absolutely stunning house, and that custom leaf design security screen has my heart :-)

    • Talina Edwards on February 24, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      There’s plenty more where that came from…just have to get around to uploading them! And thanks – I was so thrilled our clients loved my leaf design for the door! Laurence (the director) had finalised the overall conceptual design with the clients before I came on board (as a recent graduate) to be the project architect.I loved his design and I was fortunate to be able to collaborate closely with him and the clients to do the detailed design and colours of the interiors (including kitchens, bathrooms, joinery to living areas and study, stair, lighting, balcony screens and the steel-door). The leaf-design was meant to soften the otherwise boxy-masculine forms, whilst providing a lockable entry point for the clients when they opened the house up for some cross-ventilation.

  2. Eat Drink Grow Local on February 27, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Just beautiful Talina! x

  3. Talina Edwards on February 27, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Thank you! It helps to have an awesome team & fabulous clients!

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