Grand Designs Australia

Episode Guide

Port Melbourne Urban Green

Series 5 · Episode 5

Some people have the ability to see beyond the function of an object - to see it as a work of art……and it’s that premise that’s driven Melbourne doctors, Ian and Ann Howard, to create a home like no other. Their plan is to build a 3 storey house clad entirely with water tanks – massive 2 metre high ‘H’ shaped black plastic beasts that will form the skin of their new house.

It’s more than aesthetics though….as the 30 odd tanks it’ll take to cover the house will hold over 50,000 litres of water – enough for all their water needs for a lifetime, including the rooftop garden. Plus Ian has plans for living green walls with vertical gardens and hanging foliage that will, in years to come, drape the exterior.

It’s a design that’s bound to get the neighbours talking, in a suburb brimming with tiny traditional weatherboard single fronted worker’s cottages…that is, IF they can get the project started. After 2 years chasing planning approval, then losing their builder who went broke, Ian and Ann thought the worst was over, but bureaucracy tackles them yet again – this time with a power pole the council deems too close to the house.

So begins the battle of the power lines - to go underground or to stay in the air? It’s a costly add to the mix that has Ian and Ann snookered…and delayed once more. 

It’s enough for most to pull the pin but Ian and Ann push on, each with their own individualistic views of what this house will be. While Ian is focused on the sustainable qualities and operations of the water tank concept, Ann has a more romantic bent of creating a light filled environment reminiscent of an Italian villa.

Who knows how these two ideals will meet…..but one thing IS for sure….No-one can pre-empt the impact of a convoy of trucks stacked with massive water tanks, as the neighbourhood comes to a standstill. The builders are equally as stymied as lifting and maneuvering these voluptuous shapes into place comes with no instructions.

It’s a game of invention and ingenuity for a $1.8 million investment in what’s essentially an experiment…and with nothing to compare it to, the question is, will it work?


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Posted by Anthony429Report
Does anyone know the details of the product used for the rooftop flooring?
Posted by opinion1Report
but $1.8m for that.....................that is crazy
Posted by sharonleemcReport
I'd love to know who the architects were? Amazing use of space and the innovative use of materials just so inspiring.