Place Architects are the designers behind this alpine timber mill building in Bombala, New South Wales, for Korean company Dongwha, which had to address the extreme climate in a sustainable manner.

Architect Peter Wolfenden knew that in a town like Bombala where the temperature can vary from 40 degrees in summertime to minus 10 and snowing in the wintertime that heating was an unavoidable environmental cost of maintaining a stable internal environment.

The solution, Wolfenden says, included a solar passive design for the building, with much shading, particularly to the north.

“But in that environment without any type of heating you are going to struggle, especially when the building is not occupied on weekends," he says.

To make sure that the building achieved a comfortable internal temperature, a Toshiba heat recovery system was installed which takes heat away from warmer areas and transfers it to where it's needed.

Insulation was also an important factor in maintaining heat and Wolfenden chose to use a wool and polyester based product that he says is one of his favourites.

"With the insulation our building services engineer gave us the requirements and I always use the Tontine product or wool based products because I like to do things in a sustainable manner which is why the whole inside of the building is low VOC."

The building is a lightweight construction with sustainably sourced solid timber and the architects decided to install the client's own product (Dongwha Timbers) as part of the cladding.

Although the building is lightweight, thermal mass was still taken into consideration in the design.

"50 per cent of the floors in the building are concrete and that was to introduce a thermal mass component as well as a visual component."

Double glazing by Miglas adds to the thermal efficiency of the building in winter.

"It's pretty heavily insulated; it's got serious double glazing with those Miglas windows."

"Thermal and sound bats from Tontine have been used and the walls are probably rating at R3.5 while the roof is rating at about R5," he adds.

Wolfenden says that his interest in sustainability was his motivation behind the build but that ultimately he had to compromise due to the location.

"I'd love to design a non- air-conditioned office building but given the location and the conditions it would have presented great problems with dust throughout the building as well as difficulties controlling the extremes in temperature."