Site Orientation & Characteristics

Continuing our look into passive design principles, we take a closer look at the importance of site orientation and how to correctly utilise it during the initial design process.

Example of a home built with passive design in mind

Image: Passive Epringham House, MSG Architecture 2015

Clever site responsive design can reduce heating and cooling loads and also reduce the need for other expensive upgrades to improve your homes comfort. When approaching the initial design stage it is important to consider:

  • Orientation of the site
  • Access to cooling breezes
  • Neighbouring structures
  • Existing site vegetation and shading

Ideally when you purchase your property you consider the orientation and whether it is optimal for the regional climate conditions. However, we can’t all benefit from an ideal platform and strategies to overcome the challenges of a difficult site become more important.

Each active zone within a home is used differently, our designer consider the following factors:

  • What is the zone used for? (e.g. Laundry room, office or main living space)
  • What time of the day will the zone be used?
  • Who are the main occupants of each zone?

Each family utilises zones in their own way making it critical to discuss the living habits of our clients.

Living areas

Ideally living areas within homes are orientated towards north with standard eaves or high wide eaves to block out direct summer sun whilst still allowing lower winter sun to enter the zone. If you have a narrow site it becomes more difficult to funnel northern light into living areas, clever window design and use of celestory windows can be employed to overcome these restrictions.

We focus on increasing the boundary setbacks to the north of the property to maximise solar access and also create a comfortable, year-round outdoor area.


Our summers in Perth are long and harsh. By placing them on the eastern side of your property with adequate shading the bedrooms won’t become unbearably hot from direct afternoon sunlight. Pathways throughout the home will also funnel cooling afternoon breezes through these rooms from west to east.

Bathrooms and laundry rooms

These tiled areas are generally the coolest room in the house. A sound design technique is to place them on the western side of the home to insulate the remainder of the house from hot western sun. This orientation would also have wide eaves to minimise the amount of direct sun on the walls. Windows for cross-ventilation should be thoughtfully places to reduce the path for cooling breezes.

Secondary living spaces & offices

The southern side of your home is often cold without access to direct sunlight. Quiet office spaces that are small and easy to heat, if required, can be located here. Smaller windows will reduce the amount of artificial heat loss.

Home built by central avenue homes incorporating passive design

Image: Bromley Road House, Central Avenue Homes

If you have a challenging site you may explore improving the materials your home is constructed of, in our next post we will explore what your options are along with the cost implications.

You only need to take a passing interest in passive design, Central Avenue Homes has an expert team that can design a home with these principles in mind. If you want to speak with a team member about designing and constructing your new passive solar designed home visit our website contact page or call our office on 08 9456 3366 or email