A home’s liveability begins and ends with its orientation. For this heritage home in the inner western suburb of Lewisham, south-facing living quarters meant the family spent most of their time in cold, dimly lit rooms. Not much fun. But we had a plan, and one that resulted in a doubling of thermal efficiency in this part of the home from 3.2 to 6.4 stars!

With a growing family, including a four-legged friend, more space and improved connection with the backyard was a must, but thermal performance would be central to improved comfort. To bring in light and warmth, we proposed the demolition of an old addition and a careful redesign of the new. We knew we wanted to maximise budget and impact for the client, so we reduced the number of additional bedrooms (waste not, want not). To balance this, we dedicated a modest first floor addition to a more expansive parents’ bedroom with ensuite.

But our key move was to introduce an internal courtyard. We opened the heart of the home to the sun, where strategically placed ecofriendly concrete walls and hydronic heated flooring brought much-needed heat gain to cold zones. New awnings let in winter sun and we specified heavily insulated prefabricated wall and roof panels, and double-glazed windows, to help maintain comfortable indoor temperatures.

The kitchen, dining and living are now warm in every sense.Reclaimed spotted gum flooring from the old addition we repurposed in cupboard faces and in a timber-lined ceiling above the kitchen. Our gorgeous,cantilevered stair detail adds a sculptural element alongside the courtyard, but it also lets in beautiful morning sun, warming breakfasters’ backs as they sit at the kitchen bench.

Bricks from the old kitchen were repurposed as another strategic thermal mass wall in thebackyard. This doubles as a screen for a 1400L tank that supplies ample rainwater for the newly landscaped garden.A horticulturalist captured the clients’ love of Australian native plantshere in a design that promotes birdlife and other local fauna. The theme continues into the internal courtyard where the blackened trunks of the iconic Xanthorrhoeagrass trees echo our choice of blackened timber cladding.

Of course the lesson in all of this is eco friendly architecture and heritage homes are the perfect bedfellows. And The Suntrap is one lovely, warm bed.