Hill End Ecohouse by Riddel Architecture


Riddel Architecture of Queensland demolished a house in Brisbane, Australia, and then built a new home out of the salvaged materials.

Called Hill End Ecohouse, the project cannibalised 80% of the material from the original structure and the remaining unusable pieces were taken away in just two skips.

Extra materials were sourced from the local area, while the landscaping features gravel made of crushed paving and chipped trees from the previous garden.

Here's some more information from the architects:


Queensland-based, Riddel Architecture has completed work on a new high end private residence constructed almost entirely from the house it replaced.

Situated in Hill End, inner Brisbane, Australia, the Hill End Ecohouse was built from recycled materials, using 80% of the salvaged material from the 1930s house that originally occupied its narrow riverfront site. A painstaking deconstruction process resulted in just two small skips of non-reusable materials being discarded.

All additional materials were locally sourced and have undergone rigorous assessment of their environmental, social and economic sustainability credentials. Appliances were sourced to support local industry and reduce energy-miles.

With sustainability at its core the Ecohouse holds a 6-star energy efficiency rating and is self sufficient without sacrificing its aesthetic beauty.

Riddel Architecture team, David Gole and Emma Scragg worked in collaboration with Robert Peagram Builders to realise its vision of creating a high end home that was based on environmental principles. Recycled materials were carefully detailed to become design features throughout the home.

Director of Riddel Architecture, Robert Riddel said

“We were dedicated to creating the greenest home possible without compromising style. The idea of deconstructing a previous property to create something new was really exciting to us. We are pleased with how the house manages to fuse beauty with eco facilities.”

The design of this three-storey Ecohouse relates to the subtropical Australian climate with openings maximised to capture cool breezes, sun and daylight. The house is in two halves, connected by the striking Gallery breezeway, which acts as a funnel for fresh air. Throughout, large windows provide views of the surrounding river landscape whilst reducing the need for artificial light. An informal and relaxed lifestyle is encouraged by the open plan layout and the timber and tin aesthetic conveys a sense of the Queensland character.

The Hill End Ecohouse is fully self sufficient in both water and power and has a monitoring system to measure the use of energy, gas and water as well as temperature and humidity. This system also provides a carbon footprint for the house. The north-facing roof has 3kW photovoltaic panels which generate 15kWh/day, ample energy for household requirements.

With a 6-star energy efficiency rating, the house has recycled polyester bulk insulation and timber frames to reduce heat transfer. Heating is provided by solar gain captured by the light, polished concrete floors and well-insulated walls.

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An efficient gas fire provides winter heating to the southern living space, where solar heating is not possible.

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60,000L of rainwater storage supplies the whole house and garden. House rainwater is pre-filtered, heated by solar panels and stored in a well-insulated tank. To reduce water waste, a hot water recirculation unit reheats cold water and greywater is treated and recycled on site.

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Outside, the building and windows have light coloured finishes to increase the reflection of daylight and generous awnings provide protection from the sun and rain. The spacious bedroom and living areas open onto beautiful outdoor spaces with lush plantings.

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A drop down blind to the River Terrace provides shading from the morning sun whilst the north street-facing balcony is sheltered by a vegetated trellis made using recycled timber from the original site. The landscaping features woodchips from removed trees and gravel crushed from original concrete slabs.

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Posted on Tuesday April 20th 2010 at 6:30 pm by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • KH

    Wow, I really want to live in this house.

  • Chris


  • STS

    Love this! The rear elevation is a bit bland, but the clean lines of the interior are pleasant enough. The front elevation is great – riffing on the traditional Aussie veranda (as seen in Victorian & Federation era homes) with its generous sunshading.

    It’s modern, but builds on tradition – evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Distinctly Australian, responding to the needs of the local climate. And environmentally friendly to boot! What more could you ask for?

  • Laura

    Brilliant! Should be more of it

  • syd

    amazing work done with recycled materials, detailed and finished beautifully. that’s how it should be done. love the angled windows/blade walls along the courtyard gallery.

  • great work … looks really beautiful

  • Laurent

    Amazing! Defenitely the best eco-project i’ve seen, and one of the best projects of all categories as well. Simple and clear idea, let´s hope we see more recycled buildings like this in the future.

    Really well done Riddel! You should be proud.

  • Sebco

    Its great to see the ‘before’ photos – more of this please if provided.

    Where they trying to use a many different timber colours/species in this project?

    Ermmm…..nice bathroom?

  • allsgood

    what is a skip? is that half a jump?

  • Jun

    what does the huge flying roof do? purely decoration!

  • mvb

    In 1960, my grandfather used wooden beams of a dismantled bridge in order to build the structure of his house and save money. My grandfather was not an architect and he never knew about ‘sustainability’, but he had common sense. It is just an example, but you know what I mean…

    That is why the trend of doing ‘sustainable architecture’ makes me laugh. The concept of ‘sustainability’ is not new, is something that people have being doing for thousand years ago.

    However, the crisis, the global warming,… is changing the arguments of architects when they want to explain their projects.

    What I was wondering is why that house is completely new. I think it is more sustainable and cheaper to keep the original house if 80% of the material is useful and redesign the 20% left. However, the inconvenient of doing this is that the architects cannot create any cool space. So, in the end, aesthetic beauty is what matters.

  • TW

    Well done! Architects giving lip service to sustainability really give me the pips – the biggest sustainability issue the building industry faces is what gets thrown into a skip bin and the ridiculous sizes of todays houses. This house certainly gets top marks for the former.

  • TW

    Altho on second thoughts, after looking at the house very carefully, I can’t see what has been kept/re-used. Windows and doors? Exterior cladding? Roofing tiles? Bricks? Concrete Paths? Flooring? None of these appear to have been recycled.

    The house appears to have new structure, new walls, new roof, new floors, new timbers throughout, new kitchen, new bathroom, new landscaping…

    More information from the architects would be useful.

  • Rob Peagram Builders – builders of the Hill End Ecohouse

    TW – I agree it is hard to pick which materials are recyled from these pictures, as some are now hidden and others have been lovingly restored to look as new. Nearly all the framing timber from the old house was used in the frame of the new house, which has now been covered up. The old weatherboards have been patiently denailed and used again on the exterior, which now looks like new. The old floor boards have become wall linings and details on the stairs. Concrete has been crushed and used as fill, old glass from the windows became a stained glass window.

    Also, many of the materials, such as the wall sheeting, had a high recycled content.

    See http://hillendeco.blogspot.com/ for more information and pictures.

  • two thumbs up