Thistle Hill

Light House Architecture & Science

This rural home is far from typical. A modern, super-space-efficient, energy-efficient, functional and beautiful home that nestles gently into a hillside in the extreme climate of Burra, just outside the ACT.

Using the sun for passive heating in winter, and shade and cross-ventilation for cooling in summer, this low-maintenance, climate-resilient, 8.2-star home costs very little to run. The living areas face north, where the exposed, fully insulated concrete slab soaks up the winter sun and releases the retained heat overnight as temperatures quickly drop outside. All year round, the solar panels on the roof generate electricity with the annual energy production far exceeding the annual consumption.

With stunning, expansive views across and along the valley this home is a true, rural retreat and a joyful, relaxing haven for its occupants at the end of their days which are often spent planting and restoring the land around them, a rejection of the idea that homes on rural properties must be larger than suburban dwellings. This thinking (which is so well entrenched in Australia) makes absolutely no sense. This project demonstrates that rural homes can in fact be much smaller than typical suburban dwellings and function beautifully.

The home has been designed to be climate resilient. It will be very temperature stable as our weather patterns and temperatures become more extreme. The simple, compact, rectangular form provides thermal benefits by reducing external wall area. The simple form also makes the home more resilient to extreme weather events including bushfires.

The home has been planned with universal design in mind to allow the occupants can remain in their lovely rural setting for as long as possible.

Photography Ben Wrigley

Finishes: Pergola: Stratco steel frame ‘Gun Metal Grey’, Fixed louvres: Superior Screens aluminium ‘Gun Metal Grey’, Decking: Blackbutt 86 x 19mm finished with Organoil.