Renovating Resources

The Girasole House in Canberra is pushing boundaries of what’ is possible in home design and passive orientation. Operated by a touch screen panel, the home can fully rotate in less than 10 minutes so you can rotate with the sun.

Girasole – Canberra’s Rotating House

Centre for Liveability Real Estate

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A house that brings you comfort and freedom

The name Girasole originates from Italy: gira(re) means “to turn” and sole is the sun. Girasole is also known as the “sunflower”.

Operated by a touch screen panel, the home can fully rotate in less than 10 minutes so you can rotate with the sun.

It was owner John Andriolo’s long held dream to construct Girasole before his retirement. As an award winning builder with over 30 years experience (MAG Constructions (ACT) P/L) John knew what it would take to turn his idea into reality and he commissioned DNA Arhcitects to bring the concept to life. He was uncompromising in his commitment to quality and innovation and the result is an amazing house that challenges us to think differently about how we live and what we build. The simple, elegant rotation solution creates a new-found freedom to live the life you want sustainably.

“The idea for this house came about over 50 years ago when I was just a 10-year-old boy studying history in Italy. I found Galileo Galilee’s idea of ‘eppure si mouve’ (‘the earth is moving’) completely fascinating, and since then I have always dreamt that one day I would build a house that follows the sun. Seeing this idea now become a reality is a little surreal but I hope it will demonstrate how our natural resources, like the sun and rain, can be put to good use in future home designs.”

Girasole House PlanThe vision was to design a rotating, efficient home in a suburban setting that makes full use of the sun and harnesses its power all year round. Girasole will change the need to have a perfectly oriented block and demonstrate that even the most ambitious undertakings can be seen as a prototype for future environmentally friendly homes. Living rooms to the north, bedrooms to the south, wet areas central to the service core. Like other homes at Crace with their north orientation, the sloping roof is designed to allow for maximum solar penetration. The advantage of Girasole is that it tracks the sun throughout the course of the day, capturing full sunlight in winter and moving away from it in summer.

600525_606704952680336_1433206087_nSustainable Features

  • 120,000 litre underground water tank that captures rainwater from the whole roof area of the house and garage. The residents can choose how they use this feature. For example, they can service the whole house and garden (eliminating the need to use town water completely) or use it for specific areas only such as the toilet, laundry or garden.
  • 10.5kW solar panels to generate sufficient electricity and hot water, to power the house all year round.
  • North-facing living room windows are clear doubled-glazed aluminium to allow winter sun to warm the house when facing north; in summer the house can turn away from the sun to protect itself with a Low E glazing system that reflects the heat.Girasole House from Rear
  • To maximise passive heating and cooling, Girasole has very high insulation levels but doesn’t rely on thermal mass.
  • The polystyrene external cladding used has the highest insulation rating possible. The design and Weathertex cladding around the curved area of the house along with increased bulk insulation within the stud frames creates an insulated box-like structure.
  • Operable doors or windows in all rooms for excellent cross ventilation. Top windows in the living area are electronically controlled to allow for the heat in summer to escape.
  • LED lighting throughout.
  • Clothes drying line.
Girasole house living area

Girasole living area

Energy Rating

EER 6 Star* Girasole cannot be rated accurately as standard energy rating programs can only determine a rating when a house is in a fixed position for the whole year. A new challenge for the industry!

Rotation Features

Girasole is:

  • Supported by 28 wheels – 22 x 2.5-tonne capacity on the outer frame plus 6 x 5-tonne wheels for centre support.
  • Driven by two motors situated on opposite sides of the house.
  • Girasole Rotating house

    Able to:

    • Continuously rotate, limited only by service connections
    • Rotate from one side to the opposite direction in less than 10 minutes
    • Rotate with the sun, in the opposite direction to the sun, or remain stationary and more

Project Costs

House and land package in excess of $1m.

Girasole House kitchen area

Girasole kitchen area

Consultants

Builder : MAG Constructions

Architect: DNA Architects

Industrious Design has been instrumental in working with John to determine the logistics of the rotation and the mechanics behind it.

The Building Process

Canberra Times — 16 February 2013

Domain — 15 November 2012

Follow — Girasole on Facebook

About Grace, ACT:  A Blueprint for Innovation

Girasole looks out along the protected Gungaderra Grasslands Reserve to Mount Majura and the nearby hills. The four-bedroom house, located on a 704m2 block of land, has a single storey street frontage, in character with other homes on the street, and the modern floor plan provides open and spacious living areas throughout.

The ridge precinct at CraceRight from the outset, the vision of Crace was that the suburb should draw its inspiration from the traditional, much admired Canberra suburbs, where high quality streets are the backbone of an attractive public domain. Canberra’s older suburbs such as Reid, Red Hill and Griffith are well known for their wide, tree-lined verges and geometric road patterns. They have a strong emphasis on streets and parks containing view corridors to prominent natural features. While houses play an important part in that streetscape, they are not necessarily the primary feature. In fact, the landscaping and the Garden City setting are often the dominant aspect of the streetscape.

In these older suburbs, the building forms and architectural styles are a reflection of the traditional aesthetics of their time. The house designs, materials, textures and colours used were often created from a limited palette that provided a comfortable continuity and congruent pattern complementing the overall street. The trees and gardens, often framing distant views, are complemented by the elegant homes, resulting in some of the finest suburban setting in Canberra. Home designs in Canberra suburbs have changed over time to respond to contemporary ways of living, individual preferences due to the availability of new building technologies and in response to more recent sustainability issues.

“The design of the houses in the context of the street is important. Our philosophy is that houses should be designed not as individual isolated entities, but as a component of the street where the treatment of the front gardens, trees, landscaping, driveways, lighting, road layouts and services all contribute equally to an overall aesthetic.” Crace Pattern Book

Girasole has been designed to complement the guiding principles of Crace and is located in the Ridge precinct of the suburb.

Centre for Liveability Real Estate

Centre for Liveability Real Estate

In addition to their expertise in residential real estate, The Centre for Liveability Real Estate also works collaboratively with the sustainable design, construction, manufacturing and assessment and industries in the development of information on this site.

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