Awards, panels, exhibitions and a long overdue update by Julian Rutt

Once again, it's been too long between posts. With two projects due to begin on site shortly, its been a busy time of late.

The Billabong Houses are once again (most likely for the last time ever) being opened to the public on Sunday the 23rd of October as part of the Space Open House tours, a national day. Bookings are essential: Eventbrite link

The AIA awards were held back in July, and once again I had the honour of being a juror for the sustainability category, entailing a full day of presentations from architects and clients on the design philosophy and sustainability merits of their projects, followed by a day of site visits of those shortlisted and interesting discussions. All up an interesting, thought-provoking process celebrating excellence in architecture. You can see the results and winners of the various categories here with beautiful images and jury citations: AIA SA Awards


As a precursor to the 2016 Sustainable House Day, I recently had the opportunity to speak on a panel in a forum hosted by the Adelaide Sustainable Building Network (ASBN) regarding zero energy homes along with representatives from Sustainability House and Solar Quotes for the ASBN's mini-expo. A podcast of the discussion is online HERE.

For the first time in 20 years, April saw the AIA National Conference held in Adelaide, curated by the former State Government Architect Ben Hewitt, Sam Spurr & Cameron Bruhn. Another fantastic event with a myriad of intriguing global speakers, well attended by delegates from all around the country.

And the Billabong Houses picked up another award in the City of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters Excellence in Urban Design Awards 2016. Held once every 4 years or so, the award aims to foster excellence in the public realm through design and thoughtful regeneration, other award winners included Troppo for their Maylands House and Williams Burton Leopardi for Base 64 in Kent Town. NPSP EIUDA

On the photography front, I've had the pleasure of exhibiting again with Skrambled Eggs, this time being run as part of the Shimmer Photography Biennale held by the City of Onkaparinga in September. Skrambled Eggs is the brainchild of photographer Ben Liew, having established photographers exhibit works taken purely by smart phones - my contributions being typically architectural in nature. For something a little different I was asked to document various Indonesian batiks and fabrics for an exhibition run in conjunction with Flinder University and the Oz Asia festival and held recently at the Adelaide Festival Centre.

Fun with thermal cameras, or how you can see your design's insulation performance.. by Julian Rutt

Early in the summer, I had the chance of running a thermal imaging camera through one of the Billabong Houses, to 'view' the thermal range within the internal spaces and across different components of the house, eg the walls, glazing, frames etc.

After the some initial amusement from its resemblance to The Predator's heat-vision of its victims (from the 1980s movie of the same name) you can see how the camera allows you to view the range of temperatures in the frame; the highest temperature (HI) and the general range colour coded.

These images below (from friend Scott who hired the camera to test on his new eco-home) show where ceiling insulation was detected missing there, the last image around a light fitting.

The following are some images taken within the Billabong House with a regular photo beside it for orientation. In the first example notice how the heat outside is visible through the half open door and how the 'Low-E' glazing cuts out transmission of the infra-red heat to inside.

The next image of the lounge room shows the narrow temperature range inside, the window locations being easily distinguishable.

Here the positions of the timber studs are clearly visible behind the wall face - no missing insulation here! Again, the roof windows showing only minor variation in temperature from the surrounding surfaces.

The final image is of a detail of the green wall adjacent the deck area - a much larger temperature range is detected, but interesting of note that the vegetation of the partly grown green wall is shown to be significantly cooler than the surrounding surfaces; this will have some effect on cooling the local micro climate to an area with doors and a large area of glazing and will continue to improve as the green wall gets covered and the vines on the pergola over continue to grow.

Greenwall thermal

Talk at the Alternative Technology Association, Monday 16th March by Julian Rutt

Long time between updates!

This coming Monday I'll be giving a presentation at the Adelaide branch of the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) about sustainability, architecture and the Billabong Houses, and I promise to keep it upbeat and entertaining given no one likes a lecture!

The ATA describe themselves as "...a not-for-profit organisation that exists to connect, inspire and assist people to make sustainable choices in the homes and communities" by providing an advice service to its 5600 members and consultants to the public, organising / co-running the hugely successful national events Sustainable House Day and Speed-Date a Sustainable Designer (both of which I have participated in), engage in research and advocacy for the sustainability sector, provide access to discounted sustainability-related products and services as well as publish the sustainable architecture and design magazine Sanctuary and Renew which deals with some of the more technical aspects and developments in sustainability and the reduction of waste, energy and water consumption.

The Adelaide branch meets monthly with presentations on a range of topics including sustainable design, developments in sustainable products with a Q&A session, with meetings open to the public.

See more on the ATA and its many benefits here and event details for Monday night HERE.

You wouldn't use a Hair dresser for heart surgery... by Julian Rutt

 ... so when it comes to renovating Ask an Architect! (so goes the new branding for the consumer launch of Archicentre as "Ask an Architect")

While many Australians might not see themselves being able to afford an architect, the services offered by Ask An Architect / Archicentre give accessible, independent, affordable professional services to homeowners and prospective buyers alike with:

(click on the underlined links for further detail, tips, fact sheets and videos)

The new site does a great job demystifying what an architect does, what we can do with and for you including the Home renovation and design advice and design and feasibility reports. A home is for most people the single biggest investment they'll ever make and largest asset they will ever own. An architect's help and input shouldn't be seen as an additional expense, think of it instead as 'value adding', with the potential to save time, hassle and cost far beyond the initial outlay with the added benefit of optimised and customised surroundings;

Lifestyle discussion & design options

  • Advice on ways to improve your home to meet current requirements
  • Advice on options to meet your future growth and lifestyle changes
  • Advice on ways you can optimise home running costs
  • Accessibility advice
  • Making your home more sustainable
  • To renovate up, out or both
  • Value for money construction systems
  • Value for money improvements

Budgetary concerns & development alternatives

  • Is the budget enough to achieve what you want to do?
  • What budget is needed for the outcome you want?
  • Tailoring your brief (requirements) to better meet your budget
  • Do your ideas add value to your property?
  • Should you renovate, demolish and re-build or sell and buy elsewhere?
  • Understanding the controls affecting your proposed renovation or development
  • Setting realistic project time lines


Energy Efficiency Audits

Perhaps of more interest now we are into Summer, some AAA/Archicentre architects can provide Energy Efficiency Audits of an existing home / building as well as the drawings and schedules of a proposed home or building, reviewing;

  • The site, orientation, landscaping and specific climatic factors
  • Internal layout and zoning in relation to orientation
  • Internal and external materials, insulation and shading
  • Orientation related to size and proportion of openings and glazing types
  • Heating and cooling, lighting, appliances and water heating
  • Building fixtures and components and items affecting comfort or efficiency
  • Renewable energy options and feasibility
  • Options for rain water harvest, storage and reuse
  • Options for grey/waste water use on site
  • Water related fixtures and appliances
  • And considering this with both aesthetics and costs in mind and appropriate as to whether an urban or rural property

While many of these energy and environmental issues are best addressed as early as possible in a new design project, a proposed project's drawing review prior to seeking Building Rules Consent against the National Construction Code is just as useful as making changes to an existing building to try to cut down ongoing energy and water consumption - especially as we can expect significant energy and water price rises in coming years with has the potential to pay for itself many times over. Design and architecture/building sustainability audits are a service that Julian Rutt and Lumen are particularly qualified to provide.


The new Ask An Architect site is also very useful for its;

  • Active, extensive Q&A section on practical, design and budgetary issues
  • News regarding public events and seminars
  • Tips, fact sheets and short videos
  • Details on the inspection types available for those undertaking developments, needing termite inspections or wishing to get an independent review the work of their home builder

Again, many many more details on the full level of services on the website. As an AskAnArchitect/Archicentre service architect, I was required to undertake an additional training and accreditation process on top of the many years it takes to become a registered architect to be able to provide these services. I've got to say that this new site is vastly improved to get around around and find information easily, its definitely worth having a look through early on and should help ease any concerns and fill in some blanks on what we do and how to get started.

And hey, they're even using one of my designs & interior photos on their landing page!

Sanctuary Magazine feature by Julian Rutt

ON A LEAFY STREET IN INNER- SUBURBAN Adelaide, just a block from Saint Peters Billabong on the River Torrens, a pair of undeniably different facades sit comfortably among the sandstone Federation villas and stucco-rendered bungalows. Designed by sustainable architect Julian Rutt for his family and for his brother-in-law, the Billabong Houses are compact and minimalist high performers...


Read More

Talk for the ASBN available for streaming + download by Julian Rutt

The Adelaide Sustainable Building Network have uploaded both the talks from the recent 'Eco Build Experience' spotlight event where I got to talk more about the building & philosophy side of the Billabong Houses, with Terry Dollman, a lecturer at TAFE in sustainable design & building talking about his own experiences designing and building a sustainable residence. The event was capacity and completely sold out, so if you were one of those turned away at the door, you are in luck!

Unfortunately my voice was a little worse for wear (recovering from laryngitis) but thankfully I avoided having to cancel at the last minute and managed to squeak my way through the lively and often humourous Q&A session afterwards, sounding a bit like a teenage boy. Terry's talk and a host of other informative talks are hosted on the ASBN page of vimeo, located here:

Also a reminder that the second installment of Sustainable House Day 2014 is up this coming Sunday afternoon and this will be the last time the Billabong House will be open to the public for tours (having been open for SHD '13 and several award juries in the past 12 months). The tours begin from 10am and leave regularly throughout the day. Please check the Sustainable House Day website for details and other houses open to the public, or the Billabong House page for a brief summary.

Sustainable House Day '14 - Billabong Houses open by Julian Rutt

One of the Billabong Houses is open for 2014 Sustainable House Day!

Started in 2001, Sustainable House Day is a national day opening the most environmentally progressive homes to the public. To quote the website:

On Sunday 7 and 14 September, you have the opportunity to tour an amazing array of everyday Australian homes all built and created around the ideal of reducing their footprint on the earth.

By partaking in Sustainable House Day you can tap into local knowledge to learn how to successfully integrate renewable energy, recycling, and other sustainable practices into your home and lifestyle. This unique event is a valuable resource for anyone looking for inspiration, ideas and the key to sustainable living. Our homeowners, sponsors and local sustainable groups look forward to sharing their knowledge with you.

For the first time, Sustainable House Day is being spread across two weekends, with one of the Billabong Houses open on both weekends. Demand was high last year with 6 hours of back to back tours.

There are all kinds of homes open for viewing, everything from brand new homes, to extensions and renovations of existing houses, check the SHD 2014 website for more information.

Adelaide Sustainable Building Network talk + SHD '14 by Julian Rutt

I have the honour of presenting at the next of the Adelaide Sustainable Building Network's 'Spotlight' series events; The Eco Build Experience, specifically regarding my experience during the design process and build of the Billabong Houses. Co presenting will be Terry Dolman who is a lecturer at TAFE in the school of Building, Design & Drafting and has his own project underway.

Registration, presenter & event details here:

It's being held at the Institute of Architects SA office, 100 Flinders Street, Adelaide, from 6:30 pm on Wednesday 27th August, with a Q&A session following the presentations.

The ASBN on Facebook here:

And a video archive of many previous ASBN talks can be found here:


In related news, one of the Billabong Houses will again be open for tours on Sustainable House Day, in early September. A quick link is here, though there will be another post about this closer to the date(s):

ASBN Flyer

ASBN Flyer

The Adelaide Sustainable Building Network is a small, locally based, not-for profit business group with the aim of connecting professionals and community members passionate about building sustainable living environments. Our organization aims to connect many different fields and branches of society.  This exposure to other local professionals and community members is what we believe will foster collaboration between businesses, other organizations, and individuals to make a sustainable future a reality.

AIA awards 2014 - Winners (+ Billabong house success!) by Julian Rutt

Friday the 4th of July saw in the 2014 SA Chapter Australian Institute of Architects awards presentation and ceremony at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, and Lumen's Billabong Houses project picked up a Commendation in the Sustainability category, and the Adelaide Review People's Choice award!

A night celebrating excellence in architecture, the already iconic SAHMRI building on North Terrace picked up 5 awards for Public, Commercial and Interior architecture, Sustainability and the Colorbond steel prize, with other notable winners including Sue Phillips and Michael Pilkington winning the President's medal and projects from Grieve Gillett, Max Pritchard, Dimmity Andersen, MPH and Troppo amoung others, with Guy Maron's Bicentennial Conservatory winning the 25 year enduring architecture award and Matt Davis the Emerging architect prize.

Congratulations to all the winners, thanks to all the jurors giving their time, everyone at the SA chapter of the AIA making the night, and of course those who voted for the Billabong Houses for People's Choice!


Click the links below to read in more detail and peruse the inspiring images of the winners:

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) by Woods Bagot.   Image:    Peter Clarke

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) by Woods Bagot. Image: Peter Clarke

First post, a sign of things to come, creativity and an upcoming event by Julian Rutt

Welcome to my first post!

Here in this blog section, I aim to provide a little bit of a point of discussion about Adelaide architectural, design and urban happenings, built-environment sustainability issues all local  national and global, architectural imagery (given indoors is where we spend most of our time and as increasing amounts of people move to urban centres) and of course only the most interesting of happenings at Lumen...

Cities are often seen as the scourge of the environment, taking up arable land, promoting car use and resource consumption, but they shouldn't necessarily be seen so negatively - given much of the world's population now live in cities, cites are now the crucible for environmental change, where the biggest bang-for-buck can occur and where architects and urban professionals working in the built-environment can make the biggest change. Lately, Adelaide has been witness to some kind of design/urban/transport renaissance that was so sorely needed. With a very large ecological footprint per capita and a very car-centric transport system in favour for decades, recent years have seen elements of the creativity of the Dunstan era when Adelaide stood out as the place to be living in Australia - following Melbourne's revitalisation of its laneway links, testing Copenhagen-like bike infrastructure and an outcome/design-led focus being given to city developments over the bottom-line bean-counting driven process of times past - Adelaide is at somewhat of a crossroads, between those who want Adelaide to become more of a globally relevant city, and those who would seek the status quo keeping the car as our primary source of transport (despite the looming issue of peak oil).


In any case this is about quality over quantity and leads me into the guts of this first post... So I'm helping to give a talk to members of the Institute of Architects soon about the reasons architects should use professional photography to document and showcase their work. As someone who has spent a few years on architecture award juries, it is quite noticeable when architects use non professional photographers/themselves to photograph buildings. While there is debate on where South Australian architecture fits within national fee rates, considering the time spent designing, documenting and then administering a building's construction, there is little reason that there should not be the effectively tiny proportion of the total fees put aside for professional images of the work. Photography at times seems even worse hit by the 'everyone is a professional' issue that architecture suffers (with everyone watching anything from Grand Designs to The Block) in that many buying a Digital SLR camera often feel like a professional they once wouldn't have dared when it was all captured on much-more expensive and less-forgiving film. So combining two of my great loves, architecture and photography, I'm aiming to help show architects why they need professional photography, and how to take better photos of architecture when they travel with well-known Adelaide Architectural photographer David Sievers presenting the seminar, at the SA Chapter of the Institute of Architects, Thursday 19th June. Drinks and refreshments provided!