October 7, 2022

How passive solar ideas inspired a 1950s builder ahead of his time

From the exterior, the suburban household in Perth’s northern suburb of Yokine does not appear substantially distinctive from other individuals on the avenue, but it was built in 1955 making use of passive solar design and style principles.

Scott Overstone’s father Rod, a “voracious” non-fiction reader, came up with a approach to make an “environmental home” in the early 1950s, just after studying about one particular.

“He used to the CSIRO for programs to build a residence in Western Australia and they sent him again a compact booklet with layout designs and philosophies to construct a residence that doesn’t need air conditioning and would operate on the sun and airflow,” Mr Overstone mentioned.

The Overstone dwelling in Perth: everyday from the outside, but total of innovation.(ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)

The designs integrated ventilation to make the most of the “Fremantle health care provider”, the cooling breeze that sweeps in from ocean each individual summertime afternoon in Perth, and instructions on insulating the ceiling and developing a solar hot drinking water program.

But with the programs in spot, Rod hit a issue. No financial institution would lend him the cash he essential to develop this sort of an unconventional residence.

Undeterred, with the reward of a brickmaker and a mortgage from his father-in-law, the professional firefighter made a decision to develop the dwelling himself, with the support of wife Pleasure, good friends and relatives.

A brickmaking machine made of red metal
Rod Overstone’s brickmaker made use of to push all 57,000 bricks that went into the household.(Supplied: Overstone family)

“I consider he was a frustrated builder his whole lifetime, but he was a quite handy dude, like most individuals who have been born in 1927,” Mr  Overstone mentioned.

“He made use of to go and check out bricklayers at perform, so he could get the job done out how to set the house up.

“So that dude came and established the incredibly initial training course of bricks up for him and then absent he went.”

A brick in a person's hand
The bricks are unbaked and healthy with each other like Lego, wet cement is poured in the prime to bind a wall alongside one another.(ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)

The bricks are unbaked and built from a mix of sand, cement and rigorous pressure and left to dry in the sunlight – 57,000 of them went into building the residence and granny flat, and more were being made later on when Rod constructed the shed.

“I have viewed a image of me as a younger, four- or five-yr-outdated tiny lady standing around all the bricks in the sunshine,” Scott’s older sister Christine Richardson stated.

“Which is quite obvious memory to me.”

The bricks, instead than currently being laid with mortar involving each individual layer, simply just “fitted together like lego” and immediately after becoming stacked collectively, cement was poured into the holes in the bricks at the best, welding the framework collectively.

And when Rod could at minimum make the bricks himself, acquiring reflective product to use in the roof insulation proved a more challenging challenge — reflective insulation materials was one thing he had examine about, but couldn’t discover.

“He begun amassing tea chests which utilized to be lined with silver paper, to use the paper in the roof,” Mr Overstone explained.

Sooner or later even so, a mate who worked for a boat setting up firm managed to monitor down the substance he wanted.

The inside of a house
The home has inside windows for air flow that can allow neat breezes through the house.(ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)

The household also has two times the typical variety of home windows, so many that the joiner who designed them failed to imagine the amount was just for one particular home, and designed Rod shell out up entrance.

They are concentrated on the east side of the residence, with added windows added to internal partitions to allow for airflow in the course of the dwelling.

The program worked and the household has hardly ever required air-conditioning.

“It in all probability won’t function as well in wintertime as the fashionable environmental home so it can be most likely a coldish household, but in summer months it is really not a very hot dwelling,” he explained.

“I assume the present day philosophies function greater for wintertime, that’s for certain. But this surely performs in summertime no trouble at all.”

A couple next to a windmill that once stood in their backyard.
Rod and Pleasure Overstone with the windmill that the moment stood in their backyard, one particular of a lot of innovations.(ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)

With five young ones in the residence in the early several years, furthermore people today being in the home’s granny flat, Rod Overstone also utilized his building expertise to create no much less than seven photo voltaic hot drinking water systems on the northern facet of the home.

“The options for the warm drinking water method arrived with the dwelling options,” Mr Overstone said.

“He experienced a mate who was a plumber and so they just followed the designs and made it.

“They looked very substantially like they glance now — just a metal box with pipes in it and glass on top.”

Very hot drinking water was abundant in summer months, despite the fact that “winters were being difficult” he recalled, and the golfing training course throughout the street had to redesign a fairway following constant claims golf balls for hurt to the solar models.

Other additions integrated a windmill and a back again lose designed applying the same brick-generating equipment.

A section of a brick wall
Rod Overstone produced all the bricks for his house as the bank would not lend income for design.(ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)

Rod Overstone died a few decades ago and remained intrigued in troubles of sustainability and power efficiency all his everyday living, Christine Richardson claimed.

“Father was incredibly very pleased of what he’d carried out,” she remembered.

“Local weather and sustainable troubles, Dad was driven by them, when we all acquired properties, he desired them to be north-west struggling with and have photo voltaic devices and photo voltaic hot h2o.

Christine now lives in the dwelling once more with her household and mother Pleasure.

“The house seriously is component of who Dad was and we are nevertheless extremely proud of it,” Ms Richardson said.