Location: Bower S.A.
Completed: roof up February 1994
occupied during construction
Architect: E. Prelgauskas
Builder: owner built
owner: Andrea Down
Size: 140 sq. metres
Climate: Dry, warm, arid
To construct a self sufficient building for retirement seclusion.
To use self sufficient technologies within a low energy
demand building approach incorporating in particular
greenhouse for comfort control and food production.
The building to have minimum impact on the site during
construction and occupation.
35ha land area situated in original mallee land region,
generally flat land with minor undulations, covered with
bands of mallee tree vegetation interspersed with small salt
bush clearings. The locality is characterised by its low rainfall,
the sandy friable soiIs overlying limestone strata with low
nutrient levels, with the bio-mass predominantly held in the
vegetation. The building site chosen was on the northem fringe
of a mallee stand with a mild northem slope leading onto a
saltbush clearing offering good solar access.
A prefabricated steel portal system formed into three interlinked
pavillions, delivered to and erected on site with minimum
disturbance to the land. The building was capabie of erection
within its own footprint.
The building contains the following features.
A clerestorey opens to the greenhouse, bathroom and kitchen.
The bathroom has direct access to both the house and the
greenhouse. Greenhouse operation is controlled by venting
north and south under the pitched roof; food production is
established at a number of split soil levels within the
A cool space is built-in on the southern side of the building
with a veranda complete with an underlying safari roof to
the indoor area which is sunken a number of steps into the
ground and has stone perimeter walls and concrete floor to
maximise thermal mass.
All other walls are insulated framed and steel clad.
Extensive recycling includes the use of aluminium windows
and doors from demolished commercial premises built into
The steep pitched greenhouse and ablutioons roof suits solar
hot water and photovoltaic installation.
A historic single cylinder generator has been salvaged,
refurbished and is situated in the nearby garage and
power reticulated to the house.
Rain water is collected in tanks under the house veranda roof
Bio-let compost toilet is installed and grey water waste sent
to external underground disposal or greenhouse re-use.
Comfort is achieved with winter solar access to the northern
portion of the living space, summer comfort in the southern
and sunken portions of the living space.
The greenhouse was put into operation early in the building
construction with humid tropic conditions maximising plant