Australia is among the hottest, sunniest countries in the world. While this tends to be reflected in our contemporary residential architecture, this wasn’t always the case.
Victorian terraces for example, are common throughout many parts of Australia. These homes tend to be dark and overly moist with poor insulation that makes them bitterly cold in winter and oppressively hot in summer. Even Queenslanders, homes with much better ventilation and temperature insulation, are being upgraded to take advantage of the latest innovations in sun control and shading.
Modern residential designs take a cue from the Queenslander in terms of indoor-outdoor spaces that help ventilate the home and forge a better connection with the environment. Natural light is also being prioritised more than ever. But with this comes the need to create shade – bonus points for a solution that is both practical and architecturally appealing.
Outdoor shading solutions
When looking for a shading solution, it may sound counter-intuitive to choose a solution that will let more sunlight in, but in the Australian climate it’s actually a very attractive option.
The Vergola is a good example of this. Essentially a pergola with operable louvres, this is one of the best options for outdoor shading because it has the flexibility of acting as a full shade in rainy or overly bright weather conditions or bringing in some light and ventilation when the weather is pleasant.
This roofing solution features louvres with a unique aero-foil wing shape that incorporates an air gap, which along with the use of double Colorbond steel provides maximum insulation, reducing air temperature by up to 18 degrees Celsius compared to other fixed roofs, according to Vergola. It is also designed to withstand the Australian climate, with the use of BlueScope Colorbond instead of aluminium alternatives that weather more easily.
This option is suitable for the front or back yard of a detached or semi-attached home, or even the rooftop of a multi-residential building.
Another roofing solution, LouvreTec’s Retractable Opening Roof can be used to make a bold architectural statement. Not only do the louvres have the ability to open and close overhead, but they are also able to retract and stack back to less than 20 percent of their opening space.
According to LouvreTec, the Retractable Opening Roof was recently installed as part of a Port Macquarie home renovation.
“We wanted an outdoor room that would naturally attract our family members to it and become a link or a connector from our home out onto the upper deck area,” says the client.
“We didn’t want to feel the full force of the sun at all times but then in saying that on beautiful clear evenings or clear early mornings we might want to enjoy the view forward and sky above. The Retract Roof allows us [to do] this and we get to choose our setting. It has become the eye-catching finishing touch to our renovation.”
Indoor shading solutions
Inside the home, shutters are a good option for shade and insulation. With up to 40 percent of a home’s heating lost and 87 percent of heat gained through windows, shutters can be a solution to regulate the internal temperature, improving comfort and lowering overall energy use. While shutters are not currently part of Australian energy rating schemes, timber shutters have strong insulation qualities, with R-values (thermal resistance measurement) between 2.77 and 3.17. This is certainly superior to alternate materials such as aluminium or plastic.
One solution suitable for residential applications is OpenShutters’ Ultimate Interior Plantation Shutters, which are designed for maximum light, airflow and view. Made from sustainably sourced Western Red Cedar, they are made-to-order and designed for Australian conditions.
According to the company, the Plantation Shutters’ advantage is their ability to enhance the interior design of a wide range of architectural styles. They are also a practical solution that can function with any window or door, whether it is hinged, sliding or bi-folding.
Another good window shading solution is Verosol’s SilverScreen Performance window covering, which can reflect up to 85 percent of solar radiation. According to Verosol, by incorporating a microscopic layer of aluminium onto fabric, the SilverScreen layer, it’s possible to reflect heat and glare outside the building and regulate the heat and light indoors, while still retaining views to the outside.
The stunning architectural design features glass walls on every level, capturing sweeping bay and bushland views. While these expansive glass walls may look aesthetically pleasing, they can actually have negative effects on the interior, such as excess heat and fabric fading from UV radiation.
In a bid to counteract these impacts, SilverScreen blind fabrics were installed at Meller House. According to Verosol, the window covering is designed to ensure that daylight exposure, views, heat and glare are in balance, creating an environment with strong UV protection, comfort and thermo-regulation.
While it is not a shading solution itself, Blindware’s ZeroGravity spring technology can be implemented with roller blinds and shades, allowing them to be raised and lowered by simply urging the base rail up or down by hand with very little effort. The technology can be used with chain blinds, chainless blinds and motorised blinds.
Chainless blinds are particularly well-suited to residential applications as not only are they simple to use, but they are also safe for children. For reach management using a chain retainer is certainly an option, but “ZeroGravity is really a better answer to child safety with no cord, no chain, no risk,” says Sebastien Vanderbeken, national business development manager at Blindware.
The ZeroGravity technology was recently used in a home renovation in Mount Eliza, Victoria.
“[The client] redecorated the whole thing and she chose chainless ZeroGravity for a few reasons,” says Vanderbeken.
“She liked the chainless roller blinds for their minimalistic, practical approach and their uniqueness … She wanted something modern.”
According to Vanderbeken, more and more people are choosing to use motorised blinds for residential applications. AC motors will often be used for this purpose, which (depending on the amount of windows) can incur substantial electrician costs. The ZeroGravity technology does not work with AC motors, but instead allows the use of a small DC motor. The advantage of this is that it is rechargeable, so you don’t need all the wiring and the electrician costs when budgeting a residential project. Some DC motors can also be connected to smart home systems, creating further ease of use.