Tag Archives: Ecotect-Architects

Pop Up Cottages

As we welcome our newest associate John Tolhurst to the Ecotect Architect team, we are learning more about his latest research, which all started on a trip to Darwin last year.

For this trip, John was part a specially chosen team asked to determine whether a technology centre could be created to address remote Indigenous health challenges across Australia’s tropical north. The approach for the health research centre would be to focus on preventative health technologies that allow communities to improve their overall health and well-being. It was widely recognised that housing is probably the most needed technology for healthy living because of the widespread overcrowding in many remote communities.

From that study flowed an architectural research goal: Could an appealing building be created that would be completed in a factory, shipped to site to be erected into a small accommodation unit by a single person, in a day, and without special equipment? The other challenge would be that they wanted this building to not be a converted sea container or a low-spec mining donga. Instead, could it be a net-zero building and be deployed at a fraction of the cost of the usual methods?

The funny thing was that John thought it could and a year later, after developing and testing his solution, it is gaining interest across regional Australia. The solution uses a 500kg capacity hoist motor and cable to both lower a folded floor system and to then raise the roof. Revealed inside is a fully fitted out bathroom and kitchen – with electrics and plumbing already complete and ready to go. To do this means the systems must be tested before being shipped.

According to John, the vision is that after putting the building up, it rewards you with your afternoon cup of tea. His ‘pop up’ cottages can be implemented in a range of scenarios and settings at a fraction of the cost that would normally accompany these types of developments.


Prototype building during development




Internal view showing kitchen and bathroom area on right

Ecotect Architects Welcomes John Tolhurst

Well known for numerous inventions of mainly architectural designs, Richard Buckminster Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor and futurist. Fuller decries specialization as the enemy of synergy and proposes a reframing of culture that could “get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous social behaviors that will avoid extinction.”

Buckminster Fuller’s Manifesto for the Genius of Generalists

Although he may not be Buckminster Fuller, Ecotect Architects is pleased to welcome John Tolhurst as an associate, bringing his multidisciplinary studies and consulting experience to provide a broad generalist base to our team. John’s several achievements in community-based research and analysis, business planning, industrial design, innovation and entrepreneurship are notable and is a welcome addition to our line-up of original thinkers.

First studying Architecture, John also stepped into anthropology as a means to better understand a building’s relationship with culture, graduated with a Visual Arts second major, and then worked with Fitzroy Robinson Architects in London, including in its CAD development arm to better connect the emerging technology with the various project teams.

In Australia, John then completed an MBA and helped in the formation of many Centres of Excellence in Perth, working with Dr Doug McGhie and Science Matters. Resuming his design endeavours, he developed and patented a re-engineered bicycle that would go on to set the 12-hour and 24-hour world records, among others.

John’s role in Ecotect Architects is to support the use of lightweight building materials with high insulative value in particular projects, including those where a net-zero carbon impact is targeted. In this way, he hopes to help society ‘do more with less’, to use Fuller’s words.

His current research involves plans for an easily erected building to provide remote accommodation. Be sure to check back as we keep you updated with its progress.

John Tolhurst’s patented bicycle sets the record for the fastest woman crossing of America

Passive Solar Homes are naturally resistant and safe havens for bush fires if designed correctly

Ecotect- Architects are offering a Free Architectural Advisory Service for those affected in Bush Fire Regions across Australia.

The architects at Ecotect-Architects have banded together to help the community by offering a 1 hour Free of Charge consultancy to improve a person’s planning strategy, before embarking on a new project or retro for re-buildings after fire catastrophe, or those considering building in fire risk areas as well as  retrofitting your home for natural comfort using passive solar principles and increasing fire resilience.

Please see an article we published recently on the NatSCOPE and NEXUS Architectural websites for ideas – http://nexusarchitectural.com/what-can-architects-do-to-help-with-bush-fires-the-answer-is-plenty/

Phone our team for a face to face chat if you are located in the Perth region, or we can arrange a  skype session for regional WA and other States.

Insurance Companies

Ecotect-Architects will also extend this free service to all insurance companies and their customers to help make sure such damage is quelled in the future. We understand compliance, but also good fire proofing design.

Building solar homes are part of the answer to reducing fire damage risk. In Perth WA we are building a multi- home project which demonstrates all these principles. There is zero risk that these homes would ever catch fire. Our mass houses do not burn! Our passive solar houses always are superior to all other planning solutions, not just for energy conservation but also fire, and sustainable economics generally with inter-generational appeal.

Solar Passive Houses

Here is a link to our recently produced video to show what Ecotect-Architects has been doing recently and in fact for decades….

It is an update on a design approach we pioneered from the 1970s onwards and the services we provide to help you achieve your dream in the most sustainable way possible.

One way to alleviate anxiety over climate change is to build your next houses a well-optimized passive solar house or retrofit your existing house to save energy

Short Video Follow Up

To understand more, please read the script below after watching this video.

And follow up with our educational video made in 2005 to reinforce the knowledge

Or visit the shop on Wise Earth and Ecotect-Architects web sites to purchase useful design manuals.

Comments and Quotes from Garry Baverstock AM, founder of Ecotect-Architects and Wise Earth. 

 “What does it take to make your home naturally comfortable as possible and also apply the latest technologies to help avert dangerous climate change?

“I want to show you that have a home professionally designed makes more sense than ever at this time in history”

“It is not as easy as many in the housing industry would have you believe”.

“It all starts with good design. The aesthetics are important, but also how the house functions is critical. Its use of energy will be an asset or a big liability well after the glow of moving into a new home has long gone!”

“The video is to reinforce the use of passive solar design principles being applied to houses. In temperate climates homeowners pay 60 – 70% annual bills on hot water (23% for Perth, WA), with heating and cooling (40%).

“When considering natural light benefits and energy efficient lights and appliances at least 80 to 90% can be saved using the sun. This reduces the peak load required from 6 – 8 kW to 2 – 3kW of peak power making the application of PV panels far more cost effective”.

“A passive solar design house uses basic principles of orientation, cross ventilation, smart use of materials, shading and insulation to deliver natural comfort most of the time”.

“Solar water heaters will provide a 60 – 70% solar contribution and deliver hot water at 18 c/kWh over the life of the product. This is about half the costs of conventional systems. However our new PV technologies will cost a lot less.”

“Combining passive solar designed houses along with smart controlled PV technologies for hot water, boosting of heating and cooling along with the use of batteries for power and lighting use will allow you to achieve Carbon neutral status in energy use”.

“By the way, it does not make sense to use solar charged batteries to operate hot water or air conditioning at night. It simply is not cost effective and probably never will be for thermal applications.”

“The main principles of solar design are:

– Orient the home to the north in the southern hemisphere (south in the northern)

– Preference given to heavy weight materials for the internal walls

– Design windows and doors to gain good cross-ventilation

– Use double-glazing or install blinds and curtains for insulating windows

– Ensure all windows have adequate overhang or shade device for summer”

“The ideas are simple but the application is subtle. Our longer video ‘Living in a Home that Breaths’ is a good guide on how design should be modified in difference climatic zones. You can find that on YouTube”.

“Builders most often place low priority on planning the home, which is usually a standard plan onto a block as far as climatic considerations are concerned” They basically cut and paste to cheapen the construction but usually leave you with energy bills that will cost you about 10 years of home payments over a 30 year bank loan schedule. Builders seem to be more interested in higher profits than you long term economic benefit.”

“Regulations have forced builders to reconsider their position over the last few decades, but they still to the minimum required for energy efficiency for the same reason”

“Having the right shape facing the right way is critical to achieve good results”

“Understanding the path of the sun and the angles as it hits the walls, windows and roof are very important to get best use of free solar energy in winter and excluding it in summer”.

“When solar radiation passes through window and gets absorbed in the interior walls and flow it re-emits as long wave radiation or heat, from the shortwave radiation of sunlight. This long wave radiation is trapped because it does not pass back out through the glass”.

“In understanding added considerations of using landscaping to enhance the passive solar effects such as wind breaks extra shade in the right position in summer as well as special materials and construction methods all needs an expert to get good results”.

“There is a formula for every climate for the area of glass, rate of insulation, amount of thermal mass, solar performance of blinds and shutters that needs experience”.

“A home is one of the biggest investments most people make”.

“It does not make sense to NOT get it right and add value by good design and planning. Extra design costs are returned many-fold when you sell the property, while enjoying all the extra benefits and energy savings when living there”.

“Staying comfortable, saving money and living in a home that breaths is what an Ecotect-Architects designed home offers”.

“Start the journey with an advisory service on your ideas and go from there perhaps?”

“Those that have done so would tell you it was the best decision made in the journey of having a climate sensible home built that satisfies all aspects of living and economic realities for the 21st century”.

“Have a look at our website and make a booking before you commit too far with your project. Many past clients are glad they did” ……… Garry Baverstock 2019.


Our Team

We have a team of architectural associates of all age groups to suit your style, and all have been trained to be masters at solar and sustainable designed architecture

Design Checklist  (refer to Climate Sensible Designs – ‘Living in a Home that Breathes’)

– What is the goal of this video? To educate the home buyer!

– Start by facing the house the right way

– Create the right kind of shape

– Builders often place houses on a plot of land in such a way to maximize their profit

– They copy and paste the design and fit as many as possible on the land

– By duplicating the design they save expenses and maximize profits

– Solar passive houses use far less energy than ordinary houses

– Therefore they are cheaper to run

– Therefore the largest household expenses are reduced

– You can save 60 to 90% on your electricity/gas heating and cooling bills

– Understanding sun angles and the difference in summer and winter is important

– Sun comes in windows and heats the interior

– The difference between long wave and short wave rays needs to be understood

– Shade windows to stop summer sun and allow winter sun

– Open / Close curtains / blinds / shutters

– The basics are important but it is scientific Therefore the house should be designed by someone trained in the science of architecture

– Who knows how much glass?

– Where to place the windows

– To design open and close windows for breezes

– Use natural vegetation for shading walls and keeping sun off windows in summer

– Deciduous and use ever green landscape

– Concrete Slab – thermally isolated from the ground in cold or hot climates

– Air tightness

– Windows, ceilings, membranes for waterproofing and insulation

– Mechanical ventilation system when needed for release of hot air build-up

– Self-supporting roofing panels

– Retractable shading – Tecto pergola / solar verandahs

– Fresh air supply from northern bulkheads to southern outlets for supplementary AC (for Australia)

– Corridor becomes a transferred air zone

– External walls structured insulated panels

– Thermal bridging

– High performance windows

– Implications of air changes rate 0.1 v. 0.6

– Insulations – polyurethane foam

– Aluminium framed windows

Passive solar house: stringent requirement with guaranteed performance – always comfortable with minimum heating and cooling

– Solar Passive house – broad passive solar design principles, ambient weather/sun but NOT guaranteed though improved conditions