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Site Orientation & Characteristics

Continuing our look into passive design principles, we look at the importance of site orientation and how to use it in your original design.

Example of a home built with passive design in mind

Image: Passive Epringham House, MSG Architecture 2015

A clever site responsive design can reduce heating and cooling loads and the need for expensive upgrades for the comfort of your home. When working on the initial design stage it is important to consider:

  • Orientation of the site
  • Access to cooling breezes
  • Neighbouring structures
  • Existing site vegetation and shading

When you purchase your property you consider whether it faces the right way for the climate conditions. However, our houses can’t all face the same direction,  and design approaches to overcome the a difficult site become more important.

Most areas in a home are used differently, our in house designer considers the following factors:

  • What is the area used for? (e.g. Laundry, office, bedroom or main living space)
  • What time of the day will the area be used?
  • Who will use the area?

Most families use areas in their own way making it important to discuss lifestyle and living habits of our clients.

Living areas

When designing, it is ideal to have living areas facing towards north. We try to include standard eaves or high wide eaves to block out direct summer sun. These still allow lower winter sun to enter the area. A narrow site becomes more difficult to funnel northern light into living areas. Clever window designs and use of highlight windows can be used to overcome these restrictions.

We focus on increasing the boundary setbacks to the north of the property to maximise solar access and create a comfortable, year-round outdoor area.


Our summers in Perth are long and harsh. By placing them on the eastern side of your property with adequate shading the bedrooms won’t become unbearably hot from direct afternoon sunlight. Pathways throughout the home will also funnel cooling afternoon breezes through these rooms from west to east.

Bathrooms and laundry rooms

These tiled areas are generally the coolest room in the house. A sound design technique is to place them on the western side of the home to insulate the remainder of the house from hot western sun. This orientation would also have wide eaves to minimise the amount of direct sun on the walls. Windows for cross-ventilation should be thoughtfully places to reduce the path for cooling breezes.

Secondary living spaces & offices

The southern side of your home is often cold without access to direct sunlight. Quiet office spaces that are small and easy to heat, if required, can be located here. Smaller windows will reduce the amount of artificial heat loss.

Home built by central avenue homes incorporating passive design

Image: Bromley Road House, Central Avenue Homes

If you have a challenging site you may explore improving the materials your home is constructed of, in our next post we will explore what your options are along with the cost implications.

You only need to take a passing interest in passive design, Central Avenue Homes has an expert team that can design a home with these principles in mind. If you want to speak with a team member about designing and constructing your new passive solar designed home visit our website contact page or call our office on 08 9456 3366 or email [email protected]

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