Robinson Residence, Tasmania

Robinson Residence, Tasmania: Sustainable housing in a rugged environment


The ‘Robinson Residence’ is an outstanding example of how to produce stylish, sustainable housing for the exposed environment of Tasmania’s east coast.

The ‘Robinson Residence’ is a six-star energy rated home that demonstrates very tangible solutions for sustainability, including an off-the-grid electrical service, harvesting and reticulation of rainwater and onsite wastewater treatment. 

“Right from the outset, the project required a rigorous approach to design and construction,” explained Jonathan Buist of cb&m design solutions. “This was driven by a commitment to sustainability, comfortable living and a desire for a modern-looking home that could withstand the dramatic conditions of the site.

“The dramatic form of the roof over the living space is not only a great-looking architectural component, it also assists in reducing impact from the extremely strong prevailing winds and serves as a functional location for photo-voltaics (solar panels),” he said. 

The home’s high energy rating was achieved through the use of insulation, double glazing and window size and positioning, which makes maximum use of passive energy throughout the day. 

High levels of bulk insulation were installed in the walls and ceilings. Foil board (polystyrene substrate and reflective foil backing) insulates the floor platform and holds tight in the high winds and the building’s envelope was carefully sealed to minimise heat loss. 

Ten 160-watt solar panels are sufficient to run the homeowner’s fridge, television, computer and other appliances. The only energy the owners purchase is gas for their stove and hot water system, which only uses a third of the energy of conventional appliances. 

Because of the solar power requirements, a passive onsite wastewater treatment system was incorporated. This excluded the need for a pump, minimising energy requirements. Two poly tanks and an electrical pump enable water harvesting and distribution. 

The Robinson Residence was named the Tasmanian HIA Greensmart Building of the Year in 2006 and also received the State Energy Efficiency Award from the Master Builders Association in 2006.