Steels Creek Underground House 2017

Steels Creek Underground House
Steels Creek, 3775
Housing Type
Standalone House
House Size
200 sq m approx
Number of bedrooms
Number of bathrooms
Owner Builders
Project Type
New Build
Soft Loud house Architects - Alvyn Williams
Opening Hours

This house was designed after a previous home was destroyed by fire in 2009. It was built to be energy efficient and easy to maintain using the principles developed for earth ships.

The internal temperatures range from 19 degrees at the lowest to peaks of 25 degrees during prolonged heat waves with an average of 22-23 degrees most of the time. Fire safety was also a major design concern.

The house has solar/wet back water heating with hydronic radiators for cold winter nights and solar grid connected power that produces well over our energy needs. Water is collected from the farm buildings above the house to allow for gravity feed. Reed beds deal with waste. Solar tubes , LED lights and a front wall of insulated glass provide plenty of light. Clay pavers keep the floors cool in summer and store solar heat in winter but the main temperature control is through thermal mass. Lime render lets the walls deal with moisture.

Recycled materials are used for doors and other features and a solar buffer zone grows ginger ,turmeric and other plants that help control air pollutants.

The ruins of the old house have been recycled as a BBQ and class room area enclosed by an edible garden whilst the new house is situated in a fire reserve by a large dam.

Flash flood water is led away by a dry creek mote that drains into the dam and the floors at the back of the house contain drain outlets. External noise is mostly eliminated by the design and with most of the house underground there is good wind protection. All windows are easy to reach for cleaning and one can walk up the roof to service the chimneys. Sheep graze on the roof and around the building to keep the vegetation short for fire safety.

Designed by Soft Loud house Architects – Alvyn Williams

Please Note: Enter Hargreaves Road from Steels Creek Road, no entry from Melba Highway as shown on some maps.

Go to Steels Creek Road BEFORE setting the address on satnav devices


Cost estimate of sustainable home/features
Energy rating type
Energy rating
Initially 3 had to add undesigned extra changes to achieve 6 involving unnecessary insulation. Home is at least 10 as star rating standards do not count insulation value of earth.
Universal Design Features
Disability access
Adaptive design
Building Type
Core filled concrete blocks
Recycled and reused
Sustainable materials
wood cabinates and doors from recycled timber.
Healthy home materials
All surfaces finished with lime render, wax and oil based stains internally on timber, except basin timber finishes.
Windows and Doors
Double glazing
Louvre windows
Window/door materials and coverings
Skylights are solar tubes to give light in daytime to underground working areas without the need for electric lighting.
Renewable energy
Solar PV grid connect
Energy storage
Skylights are solar tubes to give light in daytime to underground working areas without the need for electric lighting.
Water heating
Solar hot water (flat panel)
Wood fire wetback
Passive heating cooling
Solar buffer zone solar heating combined with earth linked ventilation system.
Active heating cooling
Solar room heating combined with earth linked ventilation (Roman) system
Type: Earthwool R4,
Rating: R4 plus tapering effect of thermal mass from soil cover on top and sides of building
Internal and external walls
Type: Soil plus eps insulatory barrier to lock 1.5 m of soil into back wall of building to fix thermal sink into building.,
Rating: N/A
1.5m thermal flywheel at rear of house.
Water harvesting and water saving
Above ground storage
Type: Concrete Tanks Plus Gal head tanks,
Size: 200,000litres
Greywater system
Stormwater management
Low flow shower heads
5 meg/l dam storage for stock and Veg/garden irrigation
Energy efficiency
Efficient lighting
Draught proofing
Efficient appliances
Building is designed for 100 year plus life cycle, embodied energy is calculated to average out to a minimum value due to longevity of building.
Water wise plants
Edible garden
Native plants
Green roofs
Bee keeping
Rock mulch around house for fire safety. Stock vegetation management. Food producing trees for shelter belts
Council property located in:
Shire of Yarra Ranges
Sustainability organisations:
Connected to gas?