According to Luke Middleton from EME Design, designers can learn much when renovating.

And Middleton should know. His residential design, Passive Butterfly won both the Single Dwelling (Alteration & Addition) and Best of the Best categories and combined both modern science and heritage features into one award-winning package.


It was lauded by both the judges and the public for its aesthetic design, heritage features as well as its levels of sustainability.

According to the entry notes, the driving force behind the ‘Passive Butterfly’ home was to create an exemplar for transforming heritage Australian homes into beautiful and super-efficient passive houses for the 21st century, whilst retaining the heritage aspects of the building.

The design optimises spatial efficiency, while maintaining a compact footprint, generates more energy than it requires, and re-uses collected rainwater for toilets and the productive garden. In order to create the northern aspect, the extension was conceived as a butterfly roof pavilion, cleverly linked to the old building.

To optimise the spaces, the link between the existing heritage and new extension becomes the kitchen to remove hallways and minimise “circulation only” spaces.

Passive Butterfly is a prototype and exemplar in sustainable and holistic retrofits of heritage homes to exponentially improve their long term efficiency and lifespan. It showcases what is possible in terms of a holistic upgrade to Passive house standards.

Carefully modelled and tested to ensure year-round comfort, the design uses a passive design approach to ensure vastly improved comfort and super-efficient thermal performance.

This project exceeds on all levels in terms of sustainability. Sustainable design is generally a term used to label buildings/architecture that improves on the previous status quo. Small incremental improvements that make a positive contribution to reducing the impact of what would have been in a BAU (Business as Usual) scenario.

According to Middleton, the heritage home was retained, however existing windows were upgraded to triple glazed. Existing walls, floors, ceilings and roofs were also upgraded with new insulation to ensure air tightness.

“Rather than target incremental improvement to poorly performing homes, they need to strive for best practice.”


20181011_221323.jpgBohemia Hookham with both of EME's 2018 Sustainability Awards.

“It's doable, with the right approach, priorities and commitment,” he says.

“After a detailed analysis of the site and the surrounding homes, we zeroed in on possible ways to capture winter sun and panoramic views on this tricky south facing site.”

“Going one step further we aimed to also ensure the back garden was not overshadowed by the new pavilion structure,” says Middleton.

Bohemia Hookham accepting the Best of the Best Award at the 2018 Sustainability Awards, held, October 11, at The Star, Sydney.

Bohemia Hookham, (graduate of Architecture), accepting the Best of the Best Award at the 2018 Sustainability Awards, held, October 11, at The Star, Sydney.

The result was an asymmetrical butterfly roof form. 

“Typically,” notes Middleton, “the butterfly is two intersecting skillion roofs.  In this case the two skillions have been morphed in response to our extensive analysis.” 

“The house has been designed with passive house principles; combine the two we have Passive Butterfly,” he says.

Asked what can other designers , specifically those designing residential homes can learn from this winning design, Middleton says, “Much - when renovating - rather than target incremental improvement to poorly performing homes - strive for best practice - it's doable, with the right approach, priorities and commitment.”