Craig Byatt Architecture

Earth & Hearth

Earth & Hearth


The brief

Daryl and Nat engaged us to design a new home on a small suburban block in Hurstbridge, Melbourne.

They were both passionate about building a comfortable home aligned with their health and sustainability/environmental values.

This included an openness to exploring all possibilities for going ‘off-grid’ and using natural, locally sourced building materials.

With adult children leaving the nest, Daryl and Nat also wanted this to be their ‘forever home’ – one that best supported them to live independently into their old age.

The site was a difficult one with challenging constraints – tricky access via a shared driveway and a steep block meant many interested buyers had overlooked its potential.

But, on our first inspection, we saw the perfect opportunity for an innovative Earthship inspired solution.

As a result, the residence has been built into the north-facing, sloping landscape – so the earth herself lends a hand in maintaining year-round comfortable temperature.

Daryl and Nat’s willingness to collaborate closely with us, while challenging themselves, means they’ve created a unique suburban home they love living in.


Key Highlights

  • A mud brick rear wall celebrates a locally sourced, natural building material while maintaining stable humidity to help moisturise and nourish the skin.

  • A north-facing greenhouse captures year round sun providing a seed propagation space for Nat’s off-site organic farm.

  • Earthbag foundations, minimised concrete and reused excavated soil from the site.

  • Gabion retaining walls reused demolition concrete and a source of crushed bricks headed for landfill.

  • Recycled and reclaimed hardwoods form the bones of the house, adding durability and natural beauty.

  • The composting toilet and grey water treatment system have dramatically decreased water usage.

  • A 60,000 litre capacity underground water storage system further reduces mains water use and doubles as additional thermal mass.