Ruskin Elwood, as the project is known, targeted a 7+ NatHERS rating in design, is able to be run on 100% renewable energy, and features solar battery technology, rainwater collection tanks, high-performance windows, and an advanced energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system. External shading and a dual north-south aspect facilitate solar penetration in winter and natural cross-ventilation in accordance with passive solar design principles. Additionally, the project emphasised the use of durable, natural materials that were locally-sourced where possible, while a high level of insulation and focus on airtight construction ensures the building envelope’s thermal efficiency.
Beyond these vital statistics, Ruskin Elwood also emphasises that sustainable design and prosocial design go hand-in-hand. The building’s rejection of fossil fuels inherently benefits the inhabitants, who reap the rewards of the Tesla Powerwall system and the passive-solar design principles that ensure the homes remain comfortable year-round while reducing the cost associated with heating and cooling. But it also recognises that the impact of carbon emissions globally is widespread and indirect, meaning that a reduction in emissions is also of a far wider benefit than to the inhabitants alone.
The project emphasised the use of durable, natural materials that were locally-sourced where possible.
On a local level, Ruskin Elwood is designed to respect and give back to its streetscape. The bluestone cobbled driveway recalls Melbourne’s characteristic historic laneways and a textured façade of Australian hardwood and brickwork (utilising bricks sourced less than 300 kilometres away in the Grampians) provides a visually soft yet architecturally detailed face that also subtly references the area’s many art deco apartment buildings. Landscaping by SBLA was designed to create habitat for native birdlife through the selection of indigenous coastal flora. The choice of the site encourages walking over driving and supports social connections within the local community, as it is adjacent the trail along the Elwood Canal, two blocks from the beach, a five-minute walk from the Ormond Esplanade and 400 metres from Elwood Village.
Longevity is ultimately at the heart of Ruskin Elwood. Not only does the inclusion of cutting-edge technology set the homes in good stead for the future, but the selected materials and fixtures are durable, and all four townhouses were designed to Liveable Housing Australia’s Gold and Platinum standards to ensure they are suitable for a diversity of residents. Each of the townhouses has its own lift, and the planning was designed to also facilitate multi-generational living. Recognising that timeless design, which will remain appropriate and relevant in the long term, is essential to the sustainability of new residential architecture, the interiors are tranquil. The light tonal colour palette and timeless materiality are balanced with a sense of character and tactility imbued by natural granite, hardwood joinery (that hides a bar in the living room!) and Artedomus Japanese tiles that will also remain pleasing for years to come.
With Ruskin Elwood, HIP V. HYPE and Fieldwork Architects offer a vision for premium low-impact living that seamlessly intersects technology, sustainability, architecture and design.