Sustainable House Day 2018 – Sunday Sept 16th



It’s that time of year again – Sustainable House Day is just around the corner!

You can find all the details here of inspiring houses open near you.

We are excited to share that one of our projects will be open this year – a rare opportunity to see a certified* Passivhaus under construction. This is the perfect time to see the air-tight layer, how the triple-glazed windows are installed, the MVHR ducting in place and the location of insulation to walls/roof/floor, prior to everything being clad and lined and hidden away! (This is all the good stuff that turns the average building envelope into a super low-energy construction, and will be a very comfortable house.)

Our certified Passivhaus builder, Stuart Lee, from Craftsmen Quality Builders will be there with his Blower Door Testing kit to explain more about air-tightness. We’re very grateful to our wonderful clients for generously opening their doors to share their passion and knowledge about their home – with the aim to inspire others!

*We are aiming for Passivhaus certification but this can only be confirmed once the construction is complete, the blower door test proves the air-tightness, and our certified Passive House consultant has had their data and calculations cross-checked… fingers crossed!

You can find all the details about visiting our Owl Woods Passive House in Trentham here.

If you would like to download our free PDF info sheet about the sustainable specifications of this project, please click here: SHD2018 Owl Woods Passive House Notes 

Thanks also to the Australian Passive House association for also sharing this home on their website. They’ve also mentioned a few others that are open if you fancy a checking out a few different Passive Houses that are complete, when planning your day.


Currently under construction

Air-tight layer and triple-glazed windows installed

Sub-floor insulation

“Owl Woods” – look at them perched up on the birdhouse!

Recycling construction waste on site

Raised heel roof trusses for extra ceiling insulation

Oriented for Passive Solar Gain to north

Ducting for MVHR installed

Triple-glazed windows installed and taped to air-tight membrane

Do you want to know more about the Owl Woods Passive House? Click here to subscribe to our seasonal e-news and be kept up to date!

Do you have a question or want help designing your sustainable home? Please get in touch! 


What on earth is an “Earthship”?

Melbourne Earthship Group Ballarat Autonomous House Self-Sufficient radically sustainable architecture


Michael Reynolds – founder of Earthship Biotecture

This guy has been experimenting with bio-climatic, site-specific, passive-solar-design, self-sufficient, cradle-to-cradle approach, off-grid, & eco-homes for over 40 years now! (So he has been into true-sustainability well before any of those terms even existed – a real hero of the environmentally sustainable design movement!)

I was fascinated by the ethos & earthy curves of earthships when I first heard about them decades ago & there’s no doubt they’ve impacted the direction I took with my architecture career as a young student. It was inspiring to hear Mike speak when he was in Melbourne last year – with passion & some good old common sense about his inspiring approach. When I saw on the Earthship Australia Group that he was touring, I thought it would be a great opportunity to hear from a true pioneer, but I was also interested to see how the philosophy, theory and practice has evolved since his first experimental buildings back in the 70s…


What is a earthship-biotecture?

Earthships are radically sustainable buildings, that aim to be autonomous, self-sufficient, and co-exist in harmony with the earth – just “like a tree” (I’ve talked about this before). Continue reading

5 reasons YOU should come to the Smart Building and Living Expo!

Planning on renovating or building? Want an energy-efficient home?Want to live a more a sustainable life? Want to talk with some passionate experts? Then come to the Smart Building and Living Expo!

Alternative building sustainable living festival

The 2018 Buninyong Smart Building and Living Expo

Well it’s that time of year again! The nation wide Sustainable Living Festival is on once again – including our very own local Ballarat (Buninyong) version – The Smart Building and Living Expo! This is the fourth year this event has run (and the fourth time I’ll be here – but this time with my new team!) – and it gets bigger and better every year. A great range of local stallholders, exhibitors and services – all with a focus on sustainable living. (Here’s some pics of the first time I attended). It is on Sunday 25 February 2018 from 10am to 3:30pm at Royal Park in Buninyong (corner of Hedrick and Warrenheip Streets). We’ll be located under the verandah of the hall, so whatever the weather brings, we’ll be sheltered. Hope to see you there, and please do come and say Hello!!

Not sure if it is your thing? Here’s 5 reasons (yep, FIVE!) why you might want to come along (you won’t want to miss these!): Continue reading

How would you like your architecture?

how much does an architect cost? how long will it take? slow architecture

How would you like your architecture?

This diagram is often referred to the “Iron Triangle” or “Triple Constraint” when it comes to Project Management. I first saw a similar venn diagram illustration in relation to graphic design, designed by Colin Harman), and the relevance was soon picked up by the architecture community.

The three opposing points if the triangle are:
QUALITY: good > shoddy (size/scope/features/detailing/sustainability)
COST: cheap > expensive (your budget for the whole project, including construction cost)
TIME: fast > slow (the program for the delivery of architectural services, as well as the construction program)

I created my own version, as a discussion piece for use with my clients – as it is helpful for setting your priorities for the project, and understanding that being able to achieve all three simultaneously is an unrealistic goal…although we can all dream!

The idea is that you can only “pick two”. Or you might find that there is one corner of the triangle that is a much higher priority for you. The closer you move towards one point, the more this will impact the other two sides of the triangle.

– If you want your home built cheap and fast, then it will not be of good quality.
– If you want a high quality home on a small budget, then it will take time.
– If you want your home built quickly, yet also of a premium quality, then it will be a much higher cost.

So where do you think the following buildings might fit on the spectrum?
A project home?
An owner-builder with hand-crafted features?
A multi-residential development?
An investment property to be flipped quickly?
A restoration to a heritage building?
A custom architect-designed home?

However It is not as simple as just these three parts – in terms of the size/scope AND different levels of quality/crafstmanship/detailing and energy-efficiency considerations, etc. This creates a more complex layering at the ‘quality’ end of the triangle.
i.e. if the project is very large but of average quality (think McMansions), then it could be the same cost/time as a smaller sustainable and energy-efficient home of the highest quality.
An architect colleague has done a more thorough analysis of the iron triangle with these 4 dimensions (iron-tetrahedron perhaps?!)

What about sustainability?

A truly sustainable home is usually smaller (not a McMansion!) which can bring the cost down as every square metre equates to more dollars. A green home usually means that the quality of the design and build is higher than standard (i.e. double or triple-glazing, more insulation, more care taken to seal gaps, etc.) and therefore the up-front cost will also be higher…however the running costs will end up being much lower over the life of the building, and will actually save you money!

We hope this has been some food for thought for you when considering your project.

Talina x


What is the priority for your home? Quality, Cost or Time – of the impossible utopia?! I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

We aim to answer questions about sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes, also with reference to our local climate (Regional Ballarat area and Melbourne) in future articles. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our news so you won’t miss out on our posts!

Finding Equilibrium

Talina Edwards Profile Pic


When the Parlour team asked me to be a part of this inspiring series of Letters to my younger self, they posed a few questions I could reflect upon. The BIG question that is always asked is about work-life balance, and the answers are as elusive as the quest for the holy grail… So, this sets the scene for my letter, and I realised that as I was composing this, I was also tuning into my future self to give me the advice I need to heed right now.


Dear younger self, Continue reading