This year’s Best Environmentally Sustainable award, and many other Building Design Awards, goes to a Melbourne house that features an abundance of biophilic features and went against the dark roofing trend.

In spite of its suburban site, Northcote’s Biophilia State House–designed by architects at Melbourne Design Studios—merges well with its natural surroundings and vegetation.

Presented with an all-natural brief in a suburban locale, the team used a neighbouring park to achieve an immersive experience with nature.

Featuring dual internal courtyards and outdoor views – including a master bedroom that has a view over the park canopy – project architect Marc Bernstein worked with the concept in mind of landscape immersion, from the front door to the back yard.

And while the layout created building envelope challenges, Bernstein resolved this issue via extra insulation and other techniques.

The designers chose an 8.5 KW solar panel array integrated into the roof to create a more mainstream, palatable look.

The design comes complete with green roofs and integrated planters that promote biodiversity, mitigate the heat island effect, and slow the runoff of stormwater. A few of the planters will supply a shading screen once the planted foliage is grown, Bernstein says.

The home is constructed from natural materials, including sustainable timber and slate stone. Recycled bricks are in place, as are a supply of new bricks and concrete for the floor.

Bernstein says that the inclusion of a dark roof demonstrates the diversity of sustainable outcomes; depending on a slab cooling system suitable to the Victorian climate. The dark hue maximises heat. And in the summer, the excess solar energy runs the heat pump that cools the slab to keep the interior at a nice temperature.

The home also won the Residential Design – New House $1M-$3M award, the Excellence in the use of Masonry award and the Past Presidents Prize at the Building Designers Association of Victoria’s annual Building Design Awards, conducted in Melbourne on 27 July 2019.