Closer to Eden – Sanctuary Magazine, Modern Green Homes

Sanctuary Article

Cath and George enlisted Energy Architecture to tackle the renovation after visiting John Maitland’s personal house one Sustainable House Day. John Maitland of Energy Architecture designed a new master bedroom with ensuite to the west, squeezed in a clever cantilevered study/guest room almost on the boundary to the east, opened up and reconfigured the lower level layout, and installed horizontal fixed shading over the huge north-facing windows. The living room was moved to the north to take advantage of the view, and now opens onto a new deck wrapped around the north side of the house.

Windows were added to the silos to bring in light and much-needed ventilation; they have deep brightly coloured box frames that provide shading and solve the geometric problem of installing flat windows in a curved surface. The splash of colour is deliberate: “I wanted the mode of the architecture to be distinct from the original,” explains John, of the alterations and additions. “I wanted to honour what the [original architect] had done, the very pretty aesthetic of it, so I chose colour, orthogonal shapes and horizontal forms, to contrast with the existing silver, round, vertical.”
The extension, housing the new main bedroom and its ensuite and walk-in robe, is in the form of a cube, tilted to follow the slope of the land. One side wall also slopes away from the perpendicular, providing an interesting interior element (and a furnishing challenge!).

To the north, a concertina floor-to-ceiling window can be opened right up to bring the sounds and scents of the bush inside; a roll-away insect screen keeps airborne visitors out and is surprisingly visually unobtrusive. On the sides seen most, the box is clad with Corten steel that will weather to a rusty patina. It was chosen for its texture and colour, and to echo the metal finish of the existing house without matching it.

John included a generous vent space behind the cladding to regulate heat transmission into the room. The study/guest room extension is also clad in Corten. Wedge-shaped to fit the space available, it hovers over the steep slope at the north-east corner of the house. Cath credits John with the inspiration: “I thought that corner was a full stop. It was John’s idea to put the guest room out there,” she says.



  • Retained the existing solar hot water system: Edwards solar system. Manual electric boost
  • Hot water pipes in the addition are insulated.
  • 2kW solar photovoltaic system, soon to be installed.
  • Ri-Industries 22,000L underground rainwater tank plumbed to whole of house except kitchen
  • Ri-Industries 2000L retention tank with Fielders first flush system, slow discharge to landscaping.
  • Extensions oriented north for maximum solar gains; fixed metal shade devices added to existing window frames and external shading devices to northern living room windows
  • Light-coloured roofing to lower heat loads
  • Edmonds roof ventilator – TurboVentura
  • Raven door seals throughout.
  • Insulation: CSR Bradford hi-performance R5.0-6.0 ceiling batts, CSR Bradford Soundscreen Plus R2.5 to walls, Enviroseal wall wrap to external walls and Thermotec reflective unsulation and foam double layer to roof
  • Walls: Onesteel Corten steel 3mm; James Hardie rendered fibre cement 9mm; Fielders Colorbond custom orb metal sheeting
  • Roof Fielders Colorbond KlipLok700 roof sheeting.
  • Trend aluminium-framed, natural anodised, double glazed windows throughout new addition
  • Full width flyscreen in the main bedroom by Freedom Screens.
  • Clipsal LED light fittings throughout.
  • Dulux Weathershield acrylic to walls, eaves and fascias
  • Deck oil is Livos, plant-based
  • Sikkens clear finish to timber elements
  • Universal Tiles porcelain tiles to ground floor living/utility areas
  • Carpets to bedrooms and upstairs living are sisal natural fibre.
  • Home office so Cath can work from home and avoid commuting
  • Low water garden – the garden currently comprises three raised vegie beds, which are being converted to wicking beds, and an assortment of local and or other hardy plants. No watering system is required
  • On the lower side of the site similar water management work is underway, with indigenous grasses and shrubs.
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