Clever living

Clever living


by Samantha Senior  

A modest-sized two-bedroom home on the eastern shore of Hobart’s CBD is a perfect example of how downsizing can offer smarter, sustainable living without sacrificing lifestyle.

Sustainable Living 

Designed by award-winning architect Mike Cleaver from Tasmanian-based Clever Design, this home utilises Viridian glass throughout to complement the sleek, minimalist philosophy of the home and create a sense of space. “The clients were eager to downsize from their previous home to a design that offered contemporary, cost-effective living and didn’t require any exterior maintenance.

Also fundamental to the brief was the need for the design to maximise passive solar principles and to capture the southwest vista of Mt Wellington, surrounding beach and river views to the south,” says Mike. One of the clients’ must-have items was a bath that faced the surrounding views. “Furthermore, a kitchen with an island bench, provision for a large dining table and an outdoor deck for entertaining were also on the wish list,” says Mike. An “antiquated” 1963 Council Planning Scheme imposed a number of limitations on the small site, further underscoring the need for an innovative design.

“The land divided off the backyard of an existing home with a long, right-of-way access which meant that the 458m2 narrow internal site was in effect downsized to 323.4m2. Compliance with three wide perimeter drainage easements further reduced the available build envelope,” explains Mike. “The planning scheme provided for a 100m2 gross floor area with a maximum of two bedrooms.

Strategically, the design was envisioned on one level with the upper level containing all living spaces, bedroom, bathroom and entertaining areas. Flexibility was built into the design, enabling a future lower level to be redesigned given impending changes to the Planning Scheme. “As it eventuated, the new Planning Scheme was approved at the commencement of the build and we were able to incorporate a second bedroom, utility and rumpus area on the ground level while remaining within the perimeter of the upper level.”

The finished home is just under 150m2, well under the national average for new homes. Rather than being burdened by the onerous constraints and tight footprint, Mike used the opportunity to maximise every millimetre of available space to create a functional, lowmaintenance home that is deceptively spacious. “The dynamic form is made possible by the unique skeleton design, featuring exposed combinations of structural-steel columns and lintels, long cantilevered splayed roofs and textured blade walls elevated to form the upper floor. The home is also extensively glazed; glass is perfect for optimising small homes and creating the illusion of space,” says Mike. Viridian Low E EnergyTech glass is the primary material used to create the walls and screens of the multiple elevations.

Natural light forms a significant design element and this resolve is evidenced throughout with varying levels of lightness and privacy created as the sun enters through the selected glass facades. “Upon entry, you are greeted with a voluminous void filled with light entering from the upper central lightwell,” Mike says. “The floating staircase connecting the two levels provides an exciting journey to the upper floor where you are greeted with an unobstructed vista and the frameless butt glazing provides a seamless effect as you enter and exit from the interior and exterior spaces.”

Large AWS stacker sliding doors, finished in Previous Silver Pearl, open fully to the entertaining decks, providing seamless integration between indoor and outdoor living areas. Strategic positioning of AWS sashless clear-vent double-hung windows also facilitates controlled cross ventilation and abundant natural light. Feature doors finished in Viridian VLAM Translucent White have been purposefully used throughout, providing privacy and diffused light. Privacy was an issue on the western façade, so it has been walled with glazing above the lintel, which avoids the sharp low penetrating summer sun.

The upper bedroom and bathroom form a key design element of the home and the freestanding bath provides the clients with their highly anticipated views of Mt Wellington. A Viridian Observa one-way mirror facilitates glimpsed views and privacy from the master bedroom yet allows the vista to be exposed beyond the slick, double-vessel vanity units, where the clients can still enjoy the magnificent views from the bath. “The window is butt glazed and borrows the views of the adjacent room; it was tricky to get right but the result is worth it,” says Mike. “I sought the advice of Viridian Tasmanian state manager, Colin Saunders, on the correct specification of the Observa mirror. For the oneway viewing to be effective, you need a specific light-to-dark ratio with more light on the side which is to act as a mirror. “In order to use glass to optimal effect, both aesthetically and functionally, you need to understand the technical aspects of what you can and can’t do.”

The clients are now living in their new home and, according to Mike they absolutely love it, particularly the ability to live comfortably with no artificial heating or cooling. “Having been through a chilly Tasmanian winter, they can’t believe how warm it is with no artificial heating,” says Mike. “The warmer months will provide a similar level of comfort with the temperature able to be controlled by manually adjusting cross-ventilation.

The home is situated close to the river and has free access to the afternoon breezes from the mouth of the Derwent River. “The eaves design also prevents unwanted summer solar heat gain, yet allows deep penetration into the thermal mass during the winter months. When it comes to thermal comfort, the home’s size is an advantage as it offers efficient manual control. “As people are becoming more educated on sustainable design, they are realising the benefits in downsizing.

In particular, more retirees are building smaller homes; this project is a perfect example of that trend. Retirees usually have limited funds, so downsizing makes sense financially as well as sustainably. It really is a longterm solution for forward-thinking people.”

Photography: Richard Eastwood 

Project Particulars:
Hobart House , Tasmania Architect: Mike Cleaver of Clever Design
1546 South Arm Road Sandford TAS 7020
Tel: 03 6248 8283
Fax: 03 6248 8331

Builder: Brereton & Lowe Pty Ltd
Glazing Contractor: Glass Supplies, Hobart
Engineer: Mark Gardner, Aldanmark

All glass to external: Viridian Low E EnergyTech™ glass
Bedroom/bathroom: Viridian Observa™ one-way vision mirror
Feature doors: Viridian VLAM™ White Translucent
Shower and Entry Roof: Viridian VTough™ Grey

Awards received at the Tasmanian Building Design Awards 2010:
Overall Award of Excellence — Tasmania
Best Use of Glass
Best Residential Interior
Best Residential Buildings up to 250m2
Best Use of Steel
Best Use of Colour 

Viridian Glass