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2015 National Architecture Awards: Sustainable Architecture

Bethanga House by tUG workshop Sustainable Architecture: National Award Australian Institute of Architects

Jury citation

Bethanga House pushes the boundaries of residential sustainable design while at the same time establishing a frank beauty through its rawness and honesty. Sustainable strategies were tested and tailored to address the microclimate of the Lake Hume site, where temperatures have ranged from 3.9°C to 44°C in the last two years. Resources used in construction and operation were minimized; the house operates autonomously while feeding power to the grid. Studwork, plasterboard and almost all paint was eliminated; the surface area of the roof was calculated to harvest enough rainwater to account for dry periods; wastewater is treated and used to irrigate the orchard; a sandwich panel exterior insulates the exposed internal concrete panels; the floor slab is insulated through the earth and insulated perimeter concrete walls extend up to 1200 millimetres below ground level.

It is particularly noteworthy that the project team’s own monitoring tests challenge industry rating tools. They provide “real-world” results. The data collected will make a significant contribution to further developing sustainable benchmarks and educating clients, architects and industry. The architects have displayed exceptional rigour and commitment to improving the ongoing environmental performance and comfort through continually monitoring and fine-tuning. The jury was impressed by the deliberate way in which architectural moves and detail choices have been combined with sophisticated but accessible environmentally sustainable principles.


tUG Workshop
Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Project Team
Michael Markham (design architect); Peter Steudle (environmental engineering); Kevin O’Brien (collaborating land artist); James Jamison (architectural assistant); Gina Levenspiel (concrete technician)
Building surveyor Anthony Middling and Associates
Construction team Scott James Builder (builder, chief contractor), Andrew Wilson – SJB (chief carpenter), Krautz & Summerill (precast concrete, in-situ concrete), Phil’s Custom Steel (steel fabricator), Askin (insulated wall, roof panels), Superior Joinery (window joinery), Austview (window glazing), Michael Boyle Plumbing (plumber), Kdec (electrician), Hydrospec (solar kombi system, hydronics), L. A. Smith Kitchens (cabinet joiner), K & K Faber (painting), Richard Muller (shotcreting), Darren Clarke (earthworks)
Cost consultant Prowse Quantity Surveyors
Geotechnical consultants A.S. James Pty Ltd
Land capability assessment Coffey Geotechnics
Land surveyor Walpole Surveying
Lighting consultant Richmond Lighting
Precast shop drawings G. Dickie
Steel shop drawings Quantech Design
Structural consultant Tim Hall & Associates
Site details
Category Residential buildings
Type Houses
Project Details
Status Built



Published online: 5 Nov 2015
Words: National Architecture Awards Jury 2015
Images: Trevor Mein


Architecture Australia, November 2015

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