Magnetic Island house exterior Photo: Robin Gauld for Sanctuary magazine issue 12
When it came time for our architecture writer, Lloyd, to select the Best Shelter Magazine for TreeHugger's 2010 Best of Green Awards in Design and Architecture he quickly made his choice: Sanctuary Magazine, from Australia's Alternative Technology Association (ATA). Indeed he gushed, "so much beautiful stuff -- stunningly photographed and presented I just want to pack up and move to Australia. [...] The magazine's website is full of excerpts and info, but the magazine is a joy to hold."
And it is no accident that Lloyd is so enamoured. For TreeHugger was conceived as a vehicle to make green design and sustainable lifestyles attractive to a mainstream audience. Sanctuary magazine does that so effectively for eco-architecture. It's twelveth issue recently hit the news stands, continuing the thread of lush photography and green residential design. We look at some of the highlights below.
Images: Sanctuary magazine
Six houses are profiled, with sumptuous imagery, informative descriptions and backed up with a simple list of their 'sustainable features' such as the material used, the type of glazing, rainwater harvesting systems, lighting, landscaping, etc.
But probably the nub of info that most intrigues me is that the respective home owners have, in most cases, been trusting enough to provide Sanctuary magazine with project costings. I think this is an important consideration, for it is very easy to throw a barrowload of money at a home, and say "there, look it's 'green.'" It's another matter entirely to achieve sound environmental results on a tight budget. Thus Sanctuary's published costings keep the eye candy honest.
Photo: Christopher Federick Jones for Sanctuary magazine issue 11
Similarly, new houses tend to get the lion's share of attention when it comes for green housing media coverage. But Sanctuary consistently has a collection of renovations to show what clever eco thinking can impart to existing dwellings.
And the most recent issues of the magazine have also stepped outside of the pure green house reviews and covered related information. In the current edition you can get up to speed on energy ratings, reupholstering furniture, thermal window blinds, ceiling fans and landscaping. In the previous issue, the focus was on how to make a cool pantry that would give a fridge a run for its money, along with discussions of greener concrete, lawns, how to buy recycled kitchens and understanding housing ventilation.
But all this wonderful information is really just the backdrop to the reviewed houses.
Issue 12 showcases half a dozen homes, but the one that most captured my imagination was a Magnetic Island residence, with corrugated iron cladding, a material so ubiquitous in early Australian buildings. Here it is used in a tropic dwelling that has won a bunch of awards, including from the Australian Institute of Architects. In fact, the team behind its design, Troppo Architects, were this year, the first Australian firm to win the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.
Magnetic Island house interior Photo: Robin Gauld for Sanctuary magazine issue 12
Although sited in the humid tropics, the house avoids need of any air conditioning, through the judicious placement of three separate buildings connected by passive venting outdoor breezeways and backed up with insect screened adjustable louvre windows, and ceiling fans. Large eaves help keep direct sun at bay, while a lap pool also adds a cooling feature.
There is almost as much outside deck area as there is enclosed house, allowing the dwelling to appear larger than its 107 square metres (1,151 sq ft) suggest.
This three bedroom, two bathroom house was constructed by one man. All the materials are therefore relatively lightweight and easily transportable and managed. The exposed steel frame was bolted together rather than welded, so it can all be disassembled at the end of a useful life. The house itself is raised off the ground to minimise site disturbance (although we're not sure how this design feature applies to the lap pool). The builder used leftover construction materials to create furniture for the house.
The lighting is LED and this is powered via a grid connected 3kW Kyocera polycrystalline photovoltaic solar array. (See more pix on the Troppo Architect's website.)
The other homes highlighted in the twelveth issue of Sanctuary magazine each have their own unique green design features. Like sliding walls that convert otherwise private rooms into expansive open space. An idea similarly explored by another house whose entire eastern wall swings open like a massive door to turn a room into an open air pavilion. Or the house whose internal thermal mass uses rammed earth construction, with the twist of employing recycled concrete aggregate.
Sanctuary magazine is a print magazine, not available online, although excerpts of articles from back issues do appear on the magazine's website.