How is a Passive House designed?
And what specialist skills does an architect need to be able to design one?
Talina Edwards, of Talina Edwards Architecture, is the architect on the Owl Woods Passive House project.
This project didn’t start out as a Passive House, and Talina didn’t start the project as a Passive House Certified Designer … but that’s what she is now, and that’s what the house is now.
I think you’ll learn a lot from hearing how Talina talks about the process of working with a client, understanding their wants, needs, and aspirations for their home and her responsibility in bringing that to life … and how she’s worked collaboratively with the client and other team members to deliver this family their forever home.
Owl Woods Passive House, designed by Talina Edwards, Talina Edwards Architect.
Talina Edwards Architecture: elemental design studio is passionate about creating healthy, beautiful, functional, comfortable and sustainable architecture.
The practice has a passion for design that improves people’s lives – for residential, community and commercial clients. Talina strongly believes that high quality design of our built environment has many positive impacts on people and the planet.
Talina established her Architectural Studio in 2013 after more than a decade of working as a registered architect with Melbourne practices who excelled in sustainable architecture.
Talina recently became qualified as a ‘Certified Passive House Designer’, which is an international standard to deliver the healthiest, highest-performing and lowest-energy buildings in the world. The standard is heavily based in building-physics for proven performance.
Talina embraces this scientific, rational and practical side of architecture, as well as the more creative and intuitive approach to design. She employs a holistic and collaborative approach that is responsive to the whole picture, whilst including careful consideration of all the small, important details. She is very interested in how the principles of biophilic design can be applied to architectural projects to improve our wellbeing by connecting to nature.
Talina recently attended the ‘Living Future Institute’ 2018 symposium and is committed to this ideology, which aims to redirect our future towards a society that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.
Talina gained her Bachelor of Architecture (Honours) and Bachelor of Planning and Design degrees at the University of Melbourne and is a registered Architect with the Architects’ Registration Board of Victoria.
Talina is an A+ member with the Australian Institute of Architects and is a member of ArchiTeam, the Association of Consulting Architects, the Australian Passive House Association, the Building Designers Association of Victoria, the Living Future Institute Australia and the Alternative Technology Association.
In 2016 she was awarded the Peter Davies Scholarship for the Leadership Ballarat and Western Region (LBWR) program run by The Committee for Ballarat.
Talina was a co-founder of the Creative Cubby Project, a collaborative workshop with families that fosters creativity and imagination in children, whilst learning about sustainability and structures at a young age.
Talina is very engaged with her local community, and was a co-organiser of popular ‘Green-Drinks’ monthly events, along with being a co-founder of the ‘Ballarat Architects Network’.
Talina loves sharing her love of all things elemental design (green buildings, sustainable architecture, healthy homes, and natural living) by writing articles, exhibiting at Smart Living and Building expos, and giving presentations to her community.
On the weekends, she loves spending time amongst nature with her partner, children, and playful puppy – as Talina knows this is the best way to slow down and re-connect and maintain a sense of wellbeing.
In this episode, I ask Talina …
- How do you describe Passive House to people who ask?
- Tell me about what happened when the clients, David and Yvonne, first approached you for this new home … discussing sustainability measures, design etc … how did that go?
- One of the things that have been interesting about Owl Woods Passive House is that it didn’t start its journey as a Passive House did it? Can you explain more about that?
- When did Passive House start becoming part of the conversation? Who drove that?
- What was your aim for the design initially, as the clients briefed you on what they wanted, etc … and then as it became a Passive House? Talking through the ideas, the pavilion style, designing a home for people who will have older children who’ll leave and come back, etc.
- Since starting this project, you’ve achieved your Passive House design certification – why?
- David spoke about how they went about the process of finding you and then have really sought to trust you and seek your support as they move through the project. It appears you’ve created a really trusting relationship, and a collaborative one. How do you think that has happened?
- As an architect, who has come from a sustainable design point of view, to now move into this area, what has been your key learnings about what’s needed to get this right?
- Do you think you need to be a specific type of architect to tackle this area of design? It seems very technical to an outsider.
- Have you found any of this limiting for your creativity?
- I had a client joke with me that seeing homes we’ve designed get finished must be like seeing our children grow up and leave home … what are you most looking forward to in seeing this home finished?
If you’re wondering what it’s like to design a Passive House or work collaboratively with an architect for your new build or renovation, this episode provides great insight, tips, and strategies to get it right.
LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE:
Talina also provided some followup information after our conversation … so other questions we didn’t get the opportunity to cover, but you may be interested in are:
Do you need to be a specific type of architect to understand and design Passive House?
No. I think we have a responsibility to do the right thing! And I mean the right thing for people and the planet. Climate change is real. We need healthier, comfortable and more resilient homes. Once you know how to do things a better way, it feels like it would be negligent to do anything less.
Want to create your own sustainable home? Here’s 12 Super Simple, Impactful Tips to get you started.
The Design Concept for the Owl Woods Passive House
The clients are British, but wanted a sustainable Australian house that was not a box or a McMansion!
The site is in a regional location, with lovely native bushland just behind. So the concept started as the form being a little cluster of farm sheds (or like a Scottish village!), but linked together with courtyard spaces forming outdoor rooms (for entry, contemplation space, BBQ area, services yard, and arbour which is like a front verandah which will be covered in vines.)
The pitched roofs were also about the sheds/village, but also the idea of the Australian Akubra Hat that protects you in the sun and the rain (which is what David was wearing the first day we met on site on a very wet and cold day!).
The locality is known as “Owl Woods”, so I also loved the idea of these ‘pavilions’ looking a bit like birdhouses sitting in the woodland. The roofs were stretched out to the north in a ‘birds-beak’ shape for summer shading, but not in your typical gable end style. The orientation of the house is slightly north-west (not due-north) because of the ‘building envelope’ that was on the site – so we then added triangular ‘wings’ to the western side of each pavilion’s roof – these are practical in terms of providing shade, but also create a beautiful architectural response.
It really was a case of ‘form follows function’.
Rather than just being ‘tin sheds’ we also introduced some lovely native timber cladding to complement the corrugated steel, and soften the overall feel of the home and create that connection back to the bush. Once their billabong is full, and the native garden is flourishing, it will really settle into its lovely location.
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RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS PODCAST:
Check out Talina’s guide to Passivhaus Myths >>> www.talinaedwards.com.au
She also has an introduction to Passivhaus here >>> https://talinaedwards.com.au/passivhaus/
You can look up #owlwoodspassivhouse on Instagram too >>>https://www.instagram.com/talina_edwards
A resource is the HomeStyleGreen podcast link to the interview with Wolfgang Feist (the father of Passivhaus), you can find it here >>> http://homestylegreen.com/156-passive-house-dr-wolfgang-feist/
Another resource for Passive House >>> https://elrondburrell.com/blog/australia-sun-sand-surf-passivhaus/
See more information about the home, and its sustainability and Passive House measures here >>> https://sustainablehouseday.com/house-profile-view/?house_id=46764