Suburban Tree House
The beautiful architecturally designed high performance addition is clear evidence to the viability of
urban consolidation. Nestled in a quiet leafy street in the aged suburb of Kensington this addition
challenges the acceptance of bland design, construction methods and poor performance. Focused
on the magnificent golden amber tree to the North this design realigns your concepts and desires for
This beautiful addition designed by Adrian Fratelle at EcoHabit is testament to his decorated career.
Adrian has undoubtedly delivered perfection here combining his experience and unique
architectural flair to seamlessly combine form and function. The addition although small in area
presents large as you enter the ground floor open plan living. The kitchen with a beautiful matte
black island bench presents beautifully. The kitchen island is further complimented by the flush
mounted bora down draft extraction induction hotplate. The kitchen boasts generous storage
throughout further improved by the clever roller door system which facilitates a full work area or
disguises the open work shelving when required.
The Living and dining areas, central to the lower floor boast beams of natural light from the
generous windows on all three sides. To the southern elevation of the living room a strategically
placed daybed nestles up to a large stacking sliding window creating the experience of comfort in
winter on those wet and cold days but allowing the senses to experience a secluded oasis to the
outside lush garden connecting two different worlds.
The Northern elevation boasts a large stacking sliding door with High performance double glazing
which maximises the solar aspect and thermal heat gain to the thermal mass concrete slab on the
ground floor. This opens up to a beautiful large natural timber deck extending the living area from
the home to double its size taking advantage of the orientation and the beautiful Perth climate. This
area is also ever changing by the subtle influences of shading from the architectural laser cut screens
above the doors, the cantilevered upper floor and most importantly the magnificent golden amber
tree which is the primary influencer of design on this beautiful project. This external living area is
another example of the beautiful experience this addition delivers.
The external Colorbond standing seam feature cladding seamlessly wraps the entire lower floor of
the building. Rising from the secret gutters cleverly located beneath the deck, disguised as a
termination flashing up and over the roof pitch and down the opposite side into the opposite secret
gutter uninterrupted. The knuckles to the external corners masked by custom designed covers
providing a seamless sleek finish. The cantilevered portion then clad in James Hardie Scyon and
painted white boldly contrasting the dark standing seam below.
The external ceiling above the deck has been clad in architectural panels and laid out in specific
format to reduce waste and maximise the negative detailing effect to its full extent in contrasting
lineal division to that of the deck below.
As you walk back inside and past the kitchen and WC, architectural cabinetry climbs the walls
drawing attention to the beautiful architectural timber and wrought iron stairs. The timber floor
effortlessly climbs the open stringer stairs and compliments the seamless junction of the wrought
iron balustrade accentuated by the lack of visible fixings. Another example of subtle design
delivering striking results.
The upper floor consists of the master suite which changes direction as if to direct all focus on the
beautiful Liquid Amber tree directly outside the wall to wall and floor to ceiling glass. This area
cantilevers over the deck below which creates the feel of a different space entirely. The master
bedroom is extremely generous in size with floor to ceiling full wall architectural cabinetry covering
the southern wall. The Northern elevation again consists of full glass inviting the beautiful
experience this Golden Amber creates through the changing seasons. The windows are also
architecturally recessed into the end of the building which creates efficient shading and privacy on
the northern aspect. The floor of this recess is also lined with the same natural wood as the deck
below combining the spaces in textures as you look down.
The ensuite while a little quirky in shape maximises the use of this corner of the building generated
by the directional floor plan alteration for the cantilever. The space is used extremely well and
boasts a large walk in hobless shower, strategically placed toilet and generous vanity with surface
This home is also constructed from premanufactured timber framed construction ensuring
extremely low carbon footprint and low embodied energy. Premanufactured external and internal
wall frames, floor trusses and roof trusses all ensure not only less embodied energy and lower
carbon footprint but speed of construction rarely seen in Perth. The home being built in a little
under 7 months from start to completion is also extremely beneficial to the client. The use of
premanufactured timber frame in this home also resulted in huge waste reduction on site which
reduced cost and waste to landfill.
The home also boasts the additional feature of being designed and built to Passive House Standards.
The use of premanufactured timber frames wall panels, floor trusses and roof trusses, the build
process was both quick and efficient especially considering the difficult access to the rear of the
existing home. High performance Kommerling C70 Gold thermally broken Double Glazed Windows
with Viridian Lightbridge glazing, the inclusion of R-4 Bulk insulation to the raised timber floor, R-3
bulk insulation to all external walls, R-6 Bulk insulation throughout the entire roof space and R-2.5
high performance acoustic insulation to all internal walls are all features of this home which further
increase the buildings thermal and acoustic performance thus ensuring the occupants a healthy and
comfortable living environment with minimal ongoing heating and cooling costs. The inclusion of a
fully ducted Heat Recovery Ventilation system further improves not only the air quality but
maintains ambient temperatures throughout the home at extremely efficient costs.
This addition has also been tested for airtightness in line with passive house principles and returned
a fantastic result of 2.1 Ac/H (air exchanges per hour). An exceptional result considering the wall of
the existing home is retained on the internal façade of the stair void for its recycled brick feature.
The addition only has two 2.5KW split AC systems which will only be used sporadically on those
prolonged hot summer Perth days with consistently warm nights. Internal temperatures are being
monitored daily in this home with exceptionally positive results. Once again, a clear testament to the
performance of this beautiful addition.
Applying Passive House Principles for Comfortable, Healthy Homes