Owl Woods Passive House


The award-winning “Owl Woods Passive House” is a pioneering project demonstrating leadership with world’s best practice in terms of health, comfort, resilience, sustainability, efficiency, and beauty. It proves what is achievable, but also necessary for more climate-responsive and responsible buildings.

This innovative project has become well-recognised as a leading example of how beautiful architecture can also achieve such strict performance in terms of its energy-efficiency - designing beauty that is more than skin-deep!

Located in the lovely regional Victorian town of Trentham, with an altitude of 700m above sea level, the area has weather that varies between snow in winter to summer temperatures reaching 40 degrees celsius.

The owners wanted a ‘tree-change’ home that was ‘just-enough’ in terms of size.

After starting out as a concept for a passive-solar home, during the design process the decision was made to aim for certified Passive House status.

The Passive House standards allow for a healthy indoor environment, comfortable indoor temperatures with low running costs.

For Owl Woods, this is achieved by:

  • High levels of insulation to roof, walls and floor
  • An Airtight building with Controlled Ventilation
  • Triple-Glazed windows (that are openable for natural ventilation when the outdoor temps are desirable!)
  • Elimination of Thermal Bridges in the structure
  • Plus optimising the orientation of the home for solar gain in winter with appropriate shading for summer.

The architectural response was inspired by the surrounding native woodland and farming land. The design echoes a cluster of farm-sheds or birdhouses, but instead of being just being ‘tin sheds’, lovely radial-sawn native timber cladding was introduced to complement the grey corrugated steel, and soften the overall feel of the home and create that connection back to natural surrounds. Materials were chosen that are natural, healthy, durable and sustainably sourced, relating back to the Australian landscape and minimising embodied energy wherever possible.

Generous visual and physical connections to nature, natural light and materials are integral to the design, whilst the contemporary pavilion style layout creates diverse indoor environments for its users to experience.

Designed to fulfill both the physical and emotional desires and wellbeing of the occupants, the Owl Woods House is a unique blend of Biophilic Design and Passivhaus Standards of Construction. In this aspect, it really is a pioneer project for Passive House homes in Australia.

The ‘Owl Woods Passive House’ project has been recognised with numerous awards, including the 2019 Architeam Sustainability Medal, for its outstanding sustainability credentials.

With thanks to Architect Talina Edwards for sharing this stunning property with us. Find out more about Owl Woods by watching the Video on Demand content from the South Pacific Passive House Conference 2020 where Talina Edwards co-hosted a presentation with builder and SPPHC 2020 Sponsor, Stuart Lee from Craftsmen Quality Builders, and the homeowner David Rhind.


Photography by Tatjana Plitt