New house — self-sufficient Strathbogie estate

Our clients owned a hobby farm property of around 200 acres in Strathbogie, two and a half hours drive north of Melbourne. A significant portion of the property contained native bushland, and a large and picturesque dam attracted wild animals (and so could not be used for drinking water). A shack was stationed at the end of their private service road.

They wanted a weekender for relaxation away from busy professional city lives, and later the home to serve as rural retirement. The home needed to be self-sufficient in both power and water supply.


The brief

  • Comfortable modern living
  • Three bedrooms plus generous communal space
  • Self-sufficient in electricity and water
  • Durable and cost-effective materials
  • Take advantage bushland and dam views

The result

The new house was sited at the old shack site to utilise the existing service road. A two-wing residence was created. The communal spaces are contained in one wing, facing north to take full advantage of passive solar heading and bushland views. The three bedrooms comprise the other wing facing the northeast, to maximise morning light and views over the dam. Large windows admit abundant natural light, with appropriate shading to help minimise heat in summer and maximise it in winter. Building materials assist, for example with a thick concrete block south wall, and polished concrete floors (to capture heat in winter). The passive capture system elevates interior temperatures by ten Celsius degrees in winter so that it’s comfortable when the owners arrive on a Friday evening.

A room between the two wings houses a large battery array which powers electrical fittings and appliances, which were specially chosen for their low power consumption. An array of solar panels across the north wing charges the batteries.  A number of large water tanks are installed around the buildings to collect ample drinking water.

Easy-clean finishings allow simple and quick regular housework. The sleeping wing is constructed of lightweight materials to save costs as well as to provide textural variation.

A large utility shed is located to the south-west of the house and creates a secluded courtyard. A sheltered verandah to the south of the living zone and facing the courtyard provides cooler outdoor space during hot summer days.