River House: Simple success story

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Few houses take on the mantle of sustainability through simplicity as thoroughly as the home Agnes Nienhaus and Michael Shrapnel built for themselves and their daughter Carla behind the sand dunes at Carlton Beach in south-east Tasmania. “We think the key to sustainability is to use less,” says Michael. “The key to using less is to need less, and the key to needing less is to want less and to be happy with less. That’s us!”

Designed to connect with the garden and nature around them and to have a natural feel, the house radiates light and warmth. That’s thanks to clever passive design: a north-facing raked glass facade, skillion roof and cedar-framed double glazing throughout. People who visit often comment that being in the house is like being outdoors.

The 7.1 Star house has two bedrooms as well as a home office from which Michael and Agnes run their practice, Beachouse Architecture. Wherever possible, materials chosen for the building were simple, natural and non-toxic.

Read more about River House in Sanctuary 40.