Design + Architecture

Staying Cool – Cool your house without energy

We live in a primarily warm country and hot summers can make it quite uncomfortable indoors. But fear not, there are many ways to keep your cool without breaking the bank or wasting energy.

It’s all about shade. You may be tempted to install permanent shading solutions that are not flexible when it comes to the colder months. If you are in the process of designing a new home (lucky you), consider the eaves of the house. Getting these right is a key factor in maintaining a constant temperature all year round. They must be angled correctly for your climate to block harsh summer rays and let the sun warm the house in winter.

An alternative to eaves that can be retrofitted to most houses, is a retractable awning or vergola. Awnings can either be motorised or manually activated to be positioned exactly where you need it depending on the time of year. Vergola’s are essentially a set of adjustable louvres that can be adjusted to suit the angle of the sun and keep areas shady in summer. These are a good solution for covering a large outdoor area relatively cheaply, just keep in mind that they do not shield against rain so furniture will need to be outdoor specific.

Letting natural breezes flow through the house can really make a huge difference. A great way to do this is to install large sliding doors or folding doors at one side of the house that can be completely opened up. You can then open a window or door at the other end of the house to create a natural movement of air. There are many companies that make sliding and folding door hardware, with Brio being one of the best. Brio have been designing and manufacturing quality door hardware since the 1970’s and have an impressive range to suit all applications. They also have selection of screen solutions to keep those pesky insects at bay to let you keep cooling when the sun goes down.

If you are after a light and airy shading solution, a fabric sun sail can work really well. These can be easily installed to existing structures and can be removed when not required. The new crop of sun sails use high quality European fabrics that are usually guaranteed to last for at least five years – some last for 50, often bettering the lifespan of a colourbond roof. There are a huge variety of styles and colours to choose, from bold colours to elegant charcoals and everything in between. In contrast to many solid roofs, a fabric sun sail lets breezes circulate and does not trap hot air, keeping you shady and cool.


Plants for private gardens

Architectural plants? Yes its true, you read correctly, architectural plants are making a big splash in modern homes all over Australia with people these days having much more discerning taste when it comes to landscape design.

Plants should generally always suit the architecture of the home and complement it too. This is very important for plants selected for providing privacy as these more times than not form the frame of the garden. Moreover, these plants can also provide wind protection, protection from the sun or hide an ugly aspect of the garden (like a pool pump).

Tall and skinny plants are excellent for privacy if planted in rows to form a hedge or wall of green as they retain a nice amount of negative space below the foliage where privacy is not so essential and plenty of screening at the top to stop those prying eyes. Bamboo is probably the number one species to look at for clean lines and plenty of coverage. The modern bamboo varieties also do not spread like the plants of old but instead “clump” into neat bunches that can be easily managed.

The humble yucca has really taken a firm hold in the architectural plants world with its long thin leaves and low maintenance tendencies making it perfect for minimalist patio’s or landscaped gardens. They can be planted in pots or in the ground to form a good screen and wind break. Hailing from desert regions, yuccas need very little water and are very tough.