The Fern

Steele Associates Architects

The Fern is Australia’s first Passive House apartments. The Fern offers energy efficiency, filtered air free of allergens and pollutants, quiet and delightfully detailed interiors, and the city on the doorstep. These are all achieved without the ongoing use of fossil fuels. It’s sustainable, carbon-neutral accommodation made luxe.

Passive House (Passivhaus) design is a set of rigorous and scientifically developed design principles from Europe. Using five key principles of airtightness, increased insulation, thermal breaks, high-performance glazing and Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV), Passive House design is a reliable way to achieve consistently comfortable, energy-efficient buildings.

The development is set on a challenging, compact city site in Sydney’s Alexandria. Passive solar design was made difficult by the necessity for fire-rated walls on the north and south boundaries, making the only opportunity for light and ventilation on the problematic eastern and western facades. Additionally, all of the noise, dust and pollution associated with bustling city life lie just outside the front door.

Thankfully, the Fern achieved Passive House certification as the southern hemisphere’s first Passivhaus apartments. The Fern also achieved final NatHERS ratings for the apartments ranging from 9.3 to 10 stars out of a possible 10. The building envelope is highly efficient, and provides comfortable temperatures, fresh and healthy air, and peace and quiet, all while nestled into Sydney’s vibrant urban landscape.

In order to realise his goal of proving that cutting-edge, sustainable design is commercially viable for developers, Steele Associates’ Director Oliver Steele took on all commercial risk for The Fern himself, by designing, building, and developing the project. By pushing the boundaries, and doing the work that others aren’t willing or able to do, Oliver is paving the way for the future of sustainable development in Sydney.

Finishes: Elmich, Hurfords, Murobond, Aquamix. Fittings & Fixtures: Jomon Door Hardware, Stiebel Eltron, Satec, Pro Clima, Highgrove Bathrooms, Aerotron, Mitsubishi Heavy industries, Logikhaus, Reece Irrigation.

Photography: Anna Zhu