Zen Architects’ Light Saw House cleverly juxtaposes a diverse palette of materials in a geometric design that creates an effortless sense of peace and tranquillity. The architect describes it as “a contemporary, design-based solution to sustainable architecture”. 

The project is an addition to an existing double-fronted Edwardian weatherboard home in Melbourne's Fitzroy North which the client had owned for some time, but not lived in for 15 years due to being overseas. 



The initial client brief was expansive, with the client requesting five bedrooms, three bathrooms, two living rooms and a study all on a 537sqm site. However, the client also wished to maintain ample space in the backyard to house a pool and still have room to kick around a soccer ball. At the same time, the client was looking for the extension to be highly sustainable, compact and flexible enough to fit the needs of a family of five.



From the architect:

We have separated the main program of the extension from the original house in order to filter light and warmth over the top of the large existing roof and into the full extent of the new works. A low height transition zone containing ensuite, pantry, powder room and study provides this separation. A timber batten ceiling creates a compression of space at the junction of old and new but releases within the volumes and light of a saw tooth roof with high level north facing windows. 

 The volumes created allow the compact floor plan to feel generous and in proportion to the original house. Abundant light and warmth enters the extension through the saw tooths without overshadowing the south facing backyard. All new rooms enjoy views to the sky and adjacent landscaped gardens.  

Texture and warmth of the material palette is provided in the tactile elements of cabinetry and flooring. Existing brick landscaping is re-imagined internally connecting the garden to the wet areas providing robust access from the pool. Elsewhere a combination of recycled and certified sustainable Australian hardwoods are used. 


Existing external and internal walls were insulated, flooring was laid over chipboard, sealed and heavily insulated, ceiling heavily insulated, existing north and west windows were retained but retro fit double glazing. New works include double layer insulated walls with vapour permeable membrane, heavily insulated floors and roof and double-glazed windows with low-e coating and argon filled in Australian timber window frames.

Retro fit solutions combined with strict passive solar principals have delivered a whole building EER of 6.2 stars. Natural controls are supplemented with sustainable systems including a 6kW PV solar array divided between north and west aspects and wired for future battery installation, 10,000l water storage serving the pool, gardens, washing machine and toilets, heat pump hot water and a grey water diversion system.

Predominately lightweight in construction, thermal mass is highly considered but used sparingly in order to produce an extremely responsive building that engages the user with the environment. All footings and service slabs are 100 percent cement replacement geo-polymer concrete.