According Shae Parker McCashen, director of Green Sheep Collective, the choice of materials used in what has become known as the 'Sustainable Terrace' reflected the need to adhere to the sustainability as well as  the aesthetics parameters.

“Externally, we combined recycled red brick and radially sawn timber. Recycled bricks were chosen due to the sustainable nature of re-use, for their durability and longevity, and to integrate a new building into an existing street context,” says McCashen.

“Radially sawn, sustainably grown Silvertop Ash was sourced due the renewable, low-waste nature of the product, to present a modern alternative to the terrace house aesthetic, and to 'soften' the building.”


“Internally, finishes and materials were kept simple and more conventional to allow the home to take the 'knocks' of everyday family life, to be easily repaired with the anticipated regular change of occupants,” says McCashen.


Green Sheep Collective often talk about flexibility and how important it is in the final design. The design of the sustainable terrace house is no exception.

"Every space in a home should work as hard as it possibly can - none should remain dormant when we are using resources and energy to construct it in the first instance, and then to maintain, heat, cool and clean it,” says McCashen.

“This flexibility means people are less likely to need to renovate or extend in the future and that their homes are working very hard for them. Excellent functionality and reduced resource use contribute greatly to the overall sustainability of the building - much better for the environment.”


In terms of design challenges, McCashen says the two main challenges were:

a) Providing good passive solar design on a long east-west orientated site that had an existing two storey building to the north, and;

b) Designing a home that could accommodate different inhabitants, not simply meeting the individual needs of our specific client

At the same time, says McCashen, these challenges were met by:

a) Raking the roofs and ceilings up towards the north to provide high-level windows that allow north sun to naturally heat the home in winter, and that open up to allow natural cooling in summer. Lower windows could then assist with cross-ventilation, and provide garden views, while northern eaves modulate the hot summer sun, and,

b) Providing a 'flexible' room that can function in many different ways - as a second living space, a master bedroom, a yoga space, private study and so-forth. This upstairs space also has the ability to expand into balconies on either side - one connected to the more 'public' space by overlooking the rear yard, and the other providing a private outdoor living space, and enhancing cross-ventilation and natural light.

“We focus on the flexibility of space in all of our designs, to allow a building to adapt to the particular and changing needs of different inhabitants,” concludes McCashen.

From the architect: 

This modern terrace house brings great amenity to a challenging site, creating beautiful indoor spaces with great flexibility of function and connection to the outdoors.

A long, narrow property with a two-storey building on the north boundary, the site for this new home presented a great challenge in providing good passive solar design.

The design response creates beautiful, naturally lit spaces, with a courtyard, open plan living, and a series of north facing clerestory windows that naturally light and heat the home in winter, while acting as thermal chimneys in summer, drawing the heat up and out of the house.

A central courtyard provides additional connections to the garden, natural ventilation and natural light to central rooms in the home, while decking and balconies allow for the living room and flexible master bedroom to open to the outdoors and provide views and a great sense of space.


What are the sustainability features?

  • North-facing windows with eaves
  • Natural light and cross-ventilation
  • Sustainably sourced, radially sawn timber
  • LED lighting
  • Low VOC paints
  • Thermal mass
  • Flexible spaces to accommodate changes in lifestyle

Key products used:

Silvertop Ash, from Radial Timber Sales

Who are the clients and what's interesting about them?

The clients were a family of four, who were looking to build a new home to not only live in, but to also rent out during their planned long periods of travel. The home therefore had to be robust and flexible, catering for the varied lifestyles of inhabitants, and allowing the family to move back in when returning home to Melbourne.