A Melbourne home designed by Bios Design Build Sustain has pushed the boundaries to achieve a 7.3 star energy rating. 

Working on a narrow site, the designers applied unconventional strategies and together with a clever use of materials and technologies, they created the sustainable and sunlit ‘Joan 7.3’.


With a request from the client for ample floor space, a first floor was essential. To approach this, the upper level was situated at the front of the house, which avoided any privacy and shadowing issues – and created more space in the home.

At first, the local council resisted this unorthodox approach voicing “streetscape concerns”. After further negotiation, though, they embraced Bios’ wider ‘view’ that the home would improve the functionality of the site and the liveability of the home while contributing to the streetscape.

Another challenge was to capture as much sun and light as possible into the long narrow building.

“We took advantage of the western orientation to maximise solar gain,” says Greg McNeil, designer at Bios. “The west facing central courtyard is a great sun trap in the winter and is protected in summer by an operable canvas shade awning over.”

“The result is an all year-round useable outdoor extension to the living areas.”


Other energy saving features include a Ventis Subflow System, a 90 per cent efficient heat recovery ventilation system, and well-considered placement of windows, doors and ventilation louvres.  

In the middle of the home is the staircase. While providing its obvious function as the transition to the upper level, the stairs also offer a dining table that floats out from one of the timber stair treads – and seats 10.