Location: Monarto S.A.
Date Completed: May 1985
Architect: E. Prelgauskas
Builder: owner built
Owner: E. Prelgauskas
Size: 80 sq. metres
Climate: Dry, warm, arid

Emilis Prelgauskas - design elements solar hws, photovoltaics, rain water, wood lot and wood space heat, full self sufficiency heat courtyard, cool courtyard, pergola, clerestorey



The house is situated on a land rehabilitation site. The need was to build on the land with minimum further impact either during construction or during subsequent occupation. The objectives for the building were maximum self suffciency and minimum environmental impact consistent with the technology of the day. Low energy demand, occupant comfort, colours compatible with the landscape, design driven by functionial criteria rather than by general public expectations of a residential building style appearance.


The land encompasses 40ha in area and the landform undulates, with a mix of clay, sand and underlying calcrete soil strata.
The site had been heavily share farmed, with no remnant ground cover or understorey, and the existing tree canopy bases grazed by stock. An 8ha original mallee stand was in reasonable condition.
A Land Care program continues on the land; first to stabilíse the sandy soils; then to control weeds and introduce plantings to enhance natural regeneration toward achieving full eco-system restoration in the future. A 1.6km long airstrip is incorporated along the northem boundary of the land to also coincidentally achieve a boundary fire break.
The building site itself is situated 0.6km from the road frontage beyond the mallee stand. The local high ground is a sand dune. The house seats south of the dune crest. The local site thermal action generates in the hollow north of the dune. The house venting generates in the northern sunken courtyard which vents into the site thermal.


The design included off site prefabrication, erection on-site within the area of the building's final 'footprint', the portal main structure and roof were erected first so that the solar photovoltaics could be erected as the power source for the building construction. The building is steel framed, steel clad, insulated, with fire resistant internal plasterboard linings. The buildíng form includes a curved roof with solar systems on the sloping face and a south facing clerestorey to the kitchen. Integral to the building performance are the sunken northern courtyard, the southern pergola, and surrounding vegetation.


The building layout emphasises climate responsive design for comfort with minimum reliance on systems.
Rain water from roof catchment to storage and reticulation to split system which allows potable water to be split from bathroom supply water in drought periods. Solar hot water unit is wood stove wet back boosted.
The solar photovoltaics produce electricity to reguIator and batteries to zoned split 12V DC, 24V DC and inverter 240V AC circuits without back up.
The waste is to septíc tank in the winter garden.


The building has operated since 1985 as a residence, and since 1988 as the residence and office of this architect.
The building comfort is achieved by the manipulation of the building openings and systems.