Home Design


An unimpressed motoring journalist once compared the cooling abilities of the air-conditioning unit in the Alfa Romeo 156 as similar to that of an “asthmatic budgie gently blowing upon you”. If you’ve ever huddled in a west-facing home or apartment on a typical Aussie summer afternoon, we’re guessing you know exactly what he meant.

Fortunately, (mostly) gone are the days of protruding, rattling aircon units hovering over the heads of unsuspecting passers-by, just waiting to drip or drop. We now have options when it comes to cooling our homes effectively and sustainably — and compelling reasons to consider them all carefully, too, given the rapid changes happening to our already challenging climate and our drive to optimise our homes for wellbeing.

“Your home not only provides shelter, it also shapes you and how you and your family are together,” explains Caroline Pidcock, architect and regenerative co-creator at PIDCOCK — Architecture + Sustainability. “The importance of making this as beautiful, healthy and comfortable as possible cannot be underestimated.”

To achieve this, says Caroline, we need to make sure our homes are naturally comfortable throughout the year (cool in summer and warm in winter) by focusing on good orientation, high-performing building envelopes (floors, walls, ceilings, windows and doors) and the right selection of materials. So when it’s shaping up to be a cruel, cruel summer, think of “shade, seal, circulate, insulate, green” as the “slip, slop, slap, seek, slide” of sun safety for your home. Here’s how.


Understanding how the angles of the sun hit your home at different times of day (and during different seasons) can guide your design or renovation to optimise the aspect of your home. In mid-summer, for example, the northern sun is directly overhead and easier to avoid.

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