The Cube

Country · Gadigal


Project Completion · 2017

Builder · Daran Building

Engineer · RKM Consultants Pty Ltd

Photography · Chad Dao

Client brief

Young couples drawn to heritage houses will often overlook a building’s short comings in the early days of home ownership. Having spent enough time growing a family in a dark, inefficient and cramped inner western Sydney house, our clients were more than ready for an upgrade. We proposed interventions that would draw in light and triple thermal performance. And all of this without expanding the overall foot print into their much-loved garden.


To achieve a 7.1-star rated home for this environmentally conscious family of four, we focused on maximising and reorienting vertical space, with a new first floor and bright, central stairwell. The home’s dark zones have been eliminated, and comfortable temperatures are maintained with minimal artificial heating and cooling required year-round.

The existing brickwork at the rear of the home was leveraged to great effect. By adding insulation and sustainably forested Australian Blackbutt cladding to the ground floor, we transferred the thermal mass indoors for an inviting and high-performance, reverse brick veneer result.

Some of our signature timber design features, like slatted screens and deep window seats,have added visual interest as well as thermal efficiency. Looking out to the garden, double-glazed, low-e glass and a deep awning reflect and protect from the summer heat.

Next to their favourite crepe myrtle tree, a new plunge pool – topped up by the existing 3000L rainwater tank – offers the family a place for fun and relaxation in summer. There are plenty of solar panels on the roof for energy saving measures, too, and the couple is thrilled when their 4.6kW solar PV system feeds what they don’t use back into the grid.

We have visited the house several times since completion and the clients are still amazed at the home’s thermal performance.

Key Features

  • A key feature contributing to the sustainability outcomes for the project was keeping the external brick walls to the rear, which were insulated and cladding externally, bringing the thermal mass inside the home
  • 7.1 star Bers Pro thermal performance rating (To pass Basix the house achieved 2.5 stars out of 10)
  • The footprint of the old home was retained, maintaining garden space
  • Using EToolglobal the embodied energy measured 580 GJ (Average Aust. home 1000 GJ)
  • Linolium flooring to the kitchen, a green flooring alternative
  • Introduction of a south facing skylight over the kitchen
  • 4.6kW photovoltaic array to meet the household’s daily energy demand
  • Double glazed aluminium windows
  • A 3kL rainwater tank was include to supply the much loved garden

"Thought you might be interested to know how our house performed on the "hottest weekend in Sydney's history". We had a lovely weekend with friends coming for respite from the heat, kids and adults in and out of the pool, very pleasant indoors with aircon on gentle mode upstairs and fans going downstairs. We were net positive for electricity generation, only needed to turn the pool pumps off for one of the three days to achieve that, and no sacrifices needed in terms of comfort. Goes to show that it is possible to live happily with a low carbon footprint with great design. Thanks so much!"