DESIGN: Sustainability in Design / Tips from Bower’s Architect and Builder

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, AT THE BOWER WE'RE PASSIONATE ABOUT ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN, AND OF COURSE ISSUES OF SUSTAINABILITY ARE ALWAYS AT THE TOP OF MIND WHEN IT COMES TO INTERPRETING OUR INITIAL CONCEPTS INTO THE REAL THING.

As our architect extraordinaire John Burgess points out,  “The construction industry is a massive consumer of resources and once completed, buildings continue to be reliant on materials and resources for their occupants’ comfort and the structure’s maintenance.” It means we have to get it right at the very beginning, and John is, as always, our guiding light.  “Sensible choices during the design stage and during the buildings lifecycle can have a significant effect on how sustainable or damaging to the environment the building is,” he says.  

As fellow eco-warriors, we thought you’d be interested in John’s tips for Sustainable Design and we’ve added in a few eco-tips from our builder, Greg Lyon too.  John admits that sustainable design is a seriously huge topic and everyone has their own particular angle on it, but these are a few of his fundamental tips to help steer a building toward a sustainable lifecycle.


SUSTAINABLE DESIGN TIPS

  • Choose your site carefully - limiting earthworks and site disruption reduces materials and labour.
  • Orientation is so very important . Maximise orientation toward the north and minimise orientation to the west.
  • Provide appropriate sun shading to walls and openings to allow generous access of Winter sun and minimise access to Summer sun. All of the Bower Suites are oriented to the north and the two new Studios have been designed with north-facing glazing and courtyards.
  • Provide generous natural light.  A well-designed building should not require air conditioning or lights to be turned on during the day. All Bower accommodation enjoy generous natural lighting.
  • Create a permeable building that allows generous cross ventilation for beneficial south and north winds and limits exposure to harsh westerly winds.
  • Build to allow efficient sealing to avoid drafts. 
  • Capture and utilise rainwater.  It’s so much nicer than the stuff out of the tap.
  • Landscape thoughtfully by utilising shade trees, grow some veges and plant an orchard - even if it’s just a few trees.  Landscaping is such an integral part of the design at The Bower. It provides shade, creates space, provides privacy and most importantly provides a lush, visual and sensory delight.
  • Select appropriate materials. Maximise the use of low embodied energy or recycled materials, sourced locally where possible. Most building materials for The Bower were sourced from local suppliers.
  • Limit or eliminate the use of treated materials and products. So many building products contain harmful or toxic products.
  • Design and construct in a way that utilises materials thoughtfully, suitably and efficiently, maximising their life span and allow for recycling or reuse.  This applies throughout my work at the Bower.
  • Education. Do your research and pass on the knowledge.  We can all learn from each other.
  • Employ designers, builders and trades who understand building sustainably, are invested in it and share your vision.
  • Utilise solar power generation and if possible consider optimal panel location in the design stage.  Rooftop solar panels have been used throughout The Bower and have been located sensitively to maximise output but minimise their visual impact (see the title image for the solar panels on our roofs).

Greg Lyon is our building guru.  He’s the one who takes John’s designs off the paper and transforms them into the reality that our guests enjoy.

HIS TIPS:

  • Raked windows create a sense of height and space and allow a room to flood with natural light.
  • Raked awnings to provide beautiful sun shading.  Over the sliding stacking doors at The Bower we’ve lined the raked awnings with black sunbrella material which makes for very light-weight construction.
  • We’ve used a combination of black timber slats and white rendered walls in the new Bower Studios to both absorb light and reflect it, and of course the addition of mature plantings is nature’s own gift of sustainability.
  • Sliding, stacking doors like those we’ve used into the courtyards allows for better ventilation and it’s all about being less reliant on artificial heating and cooling wherever possible.