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Sustainable Living: Inside Heather’s Off-Grid House in Rural Australia

Heather's Off-Grid House, Birregurra, AUS / Gardiner Architects |

Nestled on the edge of Barwon Valley in Birregurra, Victoria, Heather’s Off-Grid House is a shining example of sustainable living in rural Australia. This 220sqm farmhouse, designed by Gardiner Architects, not only balances modern comforts with off-grid living but also prioritizes environmental stewardship and flexibility.

Heather's Off-Grid House, Birregurra, AUS / Gardiner Architects |

The project’s success is rooted in its careful consideration of the client’s brief, which emphasized family support, sustainability, flexibility, pragmatism, and functionality. The design responds to Heather’s vision of creating a home for her family while also providing a sustainable and flexible living environment.

Heather's Off-Grid House, Birregurra, AUS / Gardiner Architects |

The house features a range of sustainable features, including a prefabricated engineered timber roof structure, solar panels, and a highly efficient wood-fired boiler that powers the off-grid system. The design also prioritizes waste reduction, with all wastewater retained on-site and reused to enrich the surrounding soil via a transpiration septic system. The use of locally sourced plantation timber and radial sawn cladding minimizes waste and reduces the project’s ecological footprint.

Heather's Off-Grid House, Birregurra, AUS / Gardiner Architects |

The farmhouse’s siting and form respond to the agricultural needs, scenic vistas, and environmental sustainability of the 37-hectare property. By turning its back to prevailing westerly winds, the dwelling provides shelter within the eastern courtyard. The project’s holistic approach extends beyond the house’s walls, with the rehabilitation of 1.5 hectares of eroded land with native grasses, fostering biodiversity and supporting local fauna.

Heather's Off-Grid House, Birregurra, AUS / Gardiner Architects |

Heather’s Off-Grid House demonstrates effective financial management, delivering great value for the client while meeting the project’s sustainability goals. The result is a timeless and resilient farmhouse that not only meets the client’s budget constraints but also surpasses her aspirations for a sustainable rural retreat. This project sets a precedent for sustainable living practices, showcasing the benefits of environmental stewardship and efficiency to the wider community.

Image courtesy of Rory Gardiner