Grand Designs Australia

East Melbourne - Expert Tips

Discover tips from the experts behind the East Melbourne House from episode 4, season 6 of Grand Designs Australia.

Ralph Alphonso wants it all.  He wants a bachelor pad a stone’s throw from the city and an affordable home so green, it could become THE template for building sustainably anywhere in the world.

Unperturbed by the many unknowns, Ralph decides to pioneer a new building method that will be light weight, partially pre-fabricated and with impeccable environmental credentials.

But contrasting with Ralph’s out-sized ambitions is the plot he plans to work with – a measly 5 x 4 metre handkerchief sized piece of land, hidden down a bluestone lane way - its narrowness reflecting its previous life as a dunny run.  His solution is to build a home with a tiny footprint but is 12 metres high – in effect, a green skyscraper.

But before the build even gets out the ground, Ralph sinks a huge chunk of his budget into the earth, with a 65 metre deep geothermal drill hole that will heat and cool his environmental pad.

His zealous eco-mission sees him close to eliminating steel from the structure altogether and building almost entirely from sustainable Australian hardwood, including timber floors, timber walls, timber ceilings, timber structural beams, timber cabinetry, even an engineered timber stairwell that will allow him to go four stories high.


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