News Treehugger Voices Nice Shades: Inside and Outside Merge in Australian Courtyard House ZGA Studio designs a beautiful addition to a little house. By Lloyd Alter Lloyd Alter Facebook Twitter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Updated July 7, 2021 06:30PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email ZGA Studio News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Stopping the sun before it gets in is an important part of energy-efficient design in a warming climate. That's why we often have posts starting with "nice shades" where we admire the architectural devices that architects gave up on when air conditioning became common. When I was trolling through Sanctuary, my favorite green shelter magazine—and a Treehugger "Best of Green" award winner many years ago—I saw a little ad placed by ZGA Studio with this very clever and attractive shading device made of what looks like joists cantilevering out of the roof. ZGA Studio ZGA studio works "with Passive House design principles to create a more sustainable and liveable built environment." Architect Zoë Geyer warned Treehugger that this house isn't built to the standard, but there is still a lot to admire. ZGA Studio Like so many Australian and Californian houses, there is this wonderful flow between the inside and outside that you don't get in places that have colder weather. Here, an addition has been built behind an existing small "Spanish mission house." "A courtyard deck separates the two and creates an outdoor heart to the dwelling, drawing in natural light and a connection to the outdoor environment... Home to a family with three young boys, the project brief included a race-track and native forest in the rear garden, and a home where the kids could drag the outside inside and always have sticky fingers. The house was to be relaxed as a beach house, but flexible for many different uses and stages of family life." ZGA Studio Treehugger always promotes renovation and preservation instead of demolition, so where the lot is big enough, adding on to the rear makes environmental as well as architectural sense. ZGA Studio "The existing house was largely retained, with a linking passage extending from the old house into the garden. The new addition sits at the end of this, forming a sheltered deck space between the old and new. Sliding glazed doors draw the deck inside, to be used as an extended living space in summer." From Library looking to the rear addition. ZGA Studio The plan seems so much bigger than 2,238 square feet, with the old house at the right turning into cozy spaces and the living spaces opening onto the garden. The architect explains: ZGA Studio "The design creates two key zones within the house: the original house as a quiet zone and retreat; the addition and garden beyond as somewhere for family life to unfold. The courtyard deck separates these two zones and provides breathing space, connection to outdoors and natural light in new ‘centre’ of the house. The addition allows flexibility in the use of spaces, with sliding doors creating zones, and ties to the garden and outdoors from all rooms of the house. The family can inhabit the house in many different ways now and as children grow up." ZGA Studio Geyer says the house is designed with "passive design and insulation" and other sustainability features: "Air conditioning was installed in the kitchen living space only, to be utilized as a ‘camp-out’ area on nights of extreme heat. Natural light and connection to the outdoors and garden were key criteria that have been achieved." ZGA Studio The comment about camping out explains a lot about why the dining and living are where they are; most designers and architects would have had them reversed so that the kitchen wasn't in the living room and down a step. But if that is the one room that can be sealed off and cooled in a heatwave, it makes a lot more sense; more room to camp out. It is an interesting approach to cooling that might be considered in the northwest U.S. and British Columbia, where we hope the killer heatwaves won't become everyday occurrences. Geyer writes in her impossible-to-read online journal (why do architects do this?) that "after passing the grueling exam, ZGA STUDIO is proud to have 2 certified Passive House Designers amongst its ranks. We are very much looking forward to bringing the science of building physics into our design practice." I am very much looking forward to seeing what the firm does with its new Passive House skills. Looking at the rest of Sanctuary issue 55, I see that there are lots of nice shades. We will be back with more.