Yes, yes…I know the last couple of days have been decidedly chilly, but trust me…the warmer…
In a timely edition of Home Stories, Ashley Feraude visits the home of sustainable building expert Jenny Edwards.
Jenny described herself as a mad scientist in an email before we met, so as you could imagine, I was expecting strange contraptions, oozing beakers and hopefully a robot.
Alas, all we encountered when Cass and I arrived was a friendly dog in front of a chic house in Wright, followed by an even friendlier Jenny. Oh well, I guess no scientific experiments or robots for us then.
Jenny is a molecular-geneticist-turned-science-communicator and building scientist with a huge passion for down-right good house design.
Okay, so I don’t know what a molecular geneticist is either, but if we all nod and say as ‘ah yes’ no one will know any better and we can Google it later.
By good house design, Jenny means homes that work with—and not against—environmental conditions specific to the extremes of Canberra. If it’s done right, you can cool less, heat less and enjoy life more. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Jenny has a business called Light House Architecture and Science dedicated to designing and building sustainable homes.
Her life partner David Dufty knew nothing about either sustainable housing or architecture when they met five years ago, but Jenny turned him to the light side (see the reference there?).
He’s now an equally passionate advocate, an author, and a cognitive-psychologist-turned-historian who works from their home. You don’t need a degree in anything scientific to work out why these two are such a perfect fit—it’s an experiment made in heaven.
So, about the house. Well, it comes as no surprise there was so much science and thought put into the couple’s home that I couldn’t do it justice in just a few paragraphs. Instead, I’m going to give it a quasi-comprehensive summary and if Jenny gets annoyed, I’ll say my doggie ate my very comprehensive notes.
Let’s talk about heat. Firstly, all the windows are positioned strategically, to warm up the house in winter and protect the house in summer. There is a modular design to the home, so they have the option of isolating the back end and renting it out as a studio.
The traditionally rear-facing veranda is flipped to the front to make the most of nature and enjoy the life of the street, rather than hiding a seating area in a dark courtyard up the back of the block.
The garage front is made out of separated vertical wood panels, which not only looks really trendy, but also provides a view from the rooms to the street and it doubles up as an entertainment area when you remove the car.
There is also some air-sucky thing in the walls that do something-or-other, but I got too distracted by the interior design at that point—plus there wasn’t going to be a pop quiz at the end, so I stopped paying attention, just like in science class at school.
Jenny and David have a growing collection of art, furniture and pieces all by local artists, in fact, they’re determined to slowly fill their home with work by Canberra artists.
They are keen DESIGN Canberra festival fans and always score multiple items at the festival’s annual auction party.
Their burgeoning collection features trays by Chelsea Lemon, ottomans by Christina Bricknell, paintings by Kylie Fogarty and Roger Beale, garden sculptures made from waste materials by Rachel Develin and table and stools by Thor Deisendorf and Dan Lorrimer—among many other things.
Seeing all of this quickly erased my disappointment at the lack of robots. I realised that knowing a couple with a scientific background opens up a work of conversation and discovery.
It’s a bit like knowing a doctor personally, where you always ask for free advice. Jenny is the scientist you can quiz about hard-to-understand physics.
Want to chat about moisture and condensation? No problem. How about thermal imaging and home control? Sure.
What about advice on window modifications for better warmth retention? Jenny is your gal.
In fact, Jenny loves to chat, teach and inspire. So much so that she co-admins a Facebook group boasting 10k followers called ‘My Efficient Electric Home’. Its goal is to help people to make their homes more energy-efficient.
Jenny really should have replaced the term ‘mad’ in her email with ‘passionate, immensely interesting and resourceful’. But she’s the scientist, so she can leave the content creation to me.
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Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here.
Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with Canberra Outlet Centre.
Photography: Cass Atkinson