Category Archives: Ballarat

Charity begins at home: an alternative giving guide to help ‘save the world’

Charity Begins at Home. Blog Post Talina Edwards Architecture Sustainable design Ballarat

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~ ANNE FRANK

Well as the year draws to an end and with the smell of Christmas is in the air already, it engages our spirit of generous giving to loved-ones… But I do hate the over-spending and over-consumption of so much non-ethical and non-sustainable “stuff”!  But this post is not a gift guide (you can find one of those here or here), THIS is about extending our generous spirit beyond our loved ones, to our wider community… to help out others at this time of year too.

Here’s some little ways that don’t have to cost much (if anything!) that might just make a big difference to someone, and if that doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside, then perhaps you’re missing the point of the Christmas season. ;o)

Show Gratitude

This is the cheapest and easiest one! Just taking the time to say thank-you and letting someone know they are appreciated. You can tell them face to face, send a gift-card, post a comment publicly on social media… Taking this time to be thankful not only brightens someone else’s day, it will improve your wellbeing too!

Partake in Random Acts of Kindness

One of my favourite films of all time is Amelie! If you don’t know it (I highly recommend it!), it is a quirky art house film set in France, about a woman who does cute, odd little things to help influence the lives of the people around her, for the better.  If everyone was a little more kind, imagine the world we could be living in! Some like to see this as “Pay it forward” – or Good Karma – that the kindness you show others now, will be returned to you in a time of need. Maybe you could pay for a coffee/meal for the person in the queue behind you at the cafe, or fill up a parking metre as you leave, donate blood, let a car in front of you in a traffic jam, offer babysitting to parents, walk a friend’s dog, pick flowers from your garden to take to an elderly neighbour….  there are hundreds more ideas online if you’re stuck.

Volunteer Your Time

More than a third of Australian adults are already involved in voluntary work – are you? It also happens to be International Volunteer Day #IVD2014 on December 5th, and the theme for this year is “Make change happen: volunteer“. Helping make a difference in your community at a grassroots level is what it is all about… just by helping in a small way, you are in fact helping to change the world! Often giving your time, is more valuable than giving your money.

Donate with ‘Shout For Good’ App

I first heard about the ‘Shout for Good’ App at the Big Hearted Business Conference, and thought it was such a fabulous idea  – by changing the way we donate to charity in the age of the smart-phone. It is so easy – when you shout yourself lunch, how about donating the same amount to a favourite charity. With a tap on our phone it is that easy! No more being hassled by cold-callers asking you for your bank details for recurring monthly donations to the big charity organisations. Check it out here.

Support a Crowdfunding Campaign

I must admit, I’m quite a fan of supporting these. It is a very different feeling to say, giving money to the Guide Dogs or Oxfam – and please don’t get me wrong, of course each and every charity is worth supporting and I have given to these organisations many times, but I do love that with “Crowdfunding” you are supporting a person or a cause or a big idea that you feel more connected with. You can support, and share in their journey,  and more often than not, you  also get a “reward” because you’ve helped kick in the funds upfront toward capital for their project – so it’s a win-win situation for everyone. I’ve loved receiving some artwork, a CD, or knowing that a tree’s been planted all due to some very worthy ‘pozible’ campaigns. Two that are close to my heart at the moment, and still really need your help, are firstly, a local art and design collaborationCollidescope  where a total of 22 Ballarat visual-artists and fashion designers are working together to create wearable-art as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival – but this is much more than just ‘fashion’! It is about celebrating creativity, community and collaboration! I’m fortunate to know many of the amazing creatives involved in this project, and I can’t wait to see the outcomes. Please see more here.

The other fabulous initiative that you may have heard about isThe Nursery Project‘ by two inspiring local creatives: blogging-royalty and author Rowan Anderson (Whole Larder Love) and his partner – photographer/blogger/cook “the lunch lady” Kate Berry. You may know that they are passionate about simple, wholesome, healthy, down-to-earth living, eating sustainable, and growing your own food and making it from scratch. I love their philosophies and share *most* of them (but, err, as someone who eats predominantly vegetarian, I must admit,  I’m not quite so fond of the raise/hunt/butcher and eat the WHOLE animal – as sustainable as this scenario is!). They “want people to get their hands dirty, minds thinking and bellies and hearts full”. They’ve chosen the Daylesford area for the location, noting “We’re also basing The Nursery Project a short drive from one of the unhealthiest regional cities in Australia – Ballarat – where food and lifestyle choices are at their worst. It’s here that we hope to encourage some positive change.” If you can, please do something to help change this fact, by finding out more here.

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I’m sure you’re already giving generously to others in your own unique way, I just thought I’d put a few more ideas out there. I think this is especially important to set a good example for kids at this time of year – that it is not about receiving gifts from Santa, it is about giving to others.

And in this spirit of giving, I want to show my gratitude to all of you – my wonderful family, friends, clients, colleagues, consultants, supporters, readers, fellow-bloggers, creative tribes-folk, followers and “likers”. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Without all of you, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing! 

Ballarat Sustainable Architect Green Builder


Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, specialising in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions about environmental design. Don’t forget you can click here to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter  (or over there on the top right-hand side of this webpage) so you won’t miss out on our news!

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Creative Cubby Project – Ballarat Show 2014

You probably know by now that I’m not “just an architect” (nor just a mother), but that I also love sharing my passion with others about sustainable design, often by writing and speaking about it, and being involved with the local community.

I’ve been involved with a fabulous project with a great team that brings a lot of my interests together – it’s a Creative Cubby Project – to teach and inspire (and be inspired by!) our future generations about sustainable living. How much fun?!

Creative Cubby Project Ballarat Show Flyer

Our flyer… it’s all about FREE, fun and family-friendly!

Our first event was at the Ballarat Show, this past weekend. Three full days of creativity, fun, play, innovation, inspiration and learning a bit about sustainability, whilst building a giant cubby house out of recycled materials! We were very fortunate to receive a “Community Impact Grant” from the City of Ballarat to help fund the project. Most of our materials were donated – including some very large boxes, or purchased from the fabulous recycled collection at Reverse Art Truck (formerly known as Reverse Garbage). These included boxes, egg cartons, cardboard tubes, cereal boxes, card, bottle tops, synthetic grass, timber dowells, ribbons, magazines, straws, cork, pipe-cleaners, fabric and more!

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Just some of our materials… we had LOADS!

We were a spin-off from an “Eco-Cubby House” event at last year’s show, and were also very inspired by “Caine’s Arcade” – a 9yo boy who built an entire games-arcade from cardboard! Check out the heartwarming video about him, and the “Imagination Foundation” that resulted… We even joined our project in their Global Cardboard Challenge (which is all about engaging kids all over the world in creative play – over 46 countries are currently involved)!

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Our little makers (and some big ones too!) were so busy creating!

I loved the imagination and creativity that the kids displayed – and their parents too! We had a rule of “no glue and no paint” so everything could be dismantled and disassembled at the end of the project and then reused or recycled. This meant more innovation and creativity was involved with the building and making! Instead of glue, our fixings included: masking tape, pegs, string, rubber-bands, twist-ties, paper-clips, bulldog-clips,  pipe-cleaners, pins and staples.

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Our eco-cubby house and garden!

Our main cubby house was built over the three days and included tunnels, towers, secret rooms, openable windows and doors, skylights, peepholes, curtains, flyscreens, wind turbines, solar panels, ceiling fan, roof garden, green wall (with flowers), letter box, chimney, welcome mat and more! Our main garden area included a large tree (complete with leaves, birds, insects, swing, lantern, nest and more), a sky (including sun, clouds, rainbow and plane), our rooftop garden (full of trees, plants, flowers, scarecrow, caterpillars, rabbits, pig, birds and butterflies),  stepping-stones, a fish pond, and a patchwork shade sail!

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Look at some these fabulous creations!

The kids had free reign over what they wanted to contribute to the project.  Some of their ideas were fabulous! Check out the welcome-sign for the door, the barbecue complete with kebabs(!), the upholstered armchair, the stick insect and spider, and the fish pond complete with water-feature! We had a radio, a tv, a clock, all made out of cardboard! There was also a garage – as we had some truly inventive tractors, trolleys, cars and trains… all run on fuel from renewable resources of course!

Creative-Cubby-Project-Kids

How much fun is a big box with a hole cut in it?!

I think our favourite thing was seeing the joy on the kids’ faces as they explored and discovered the ins and outs of the cubby, and then felt some ownership as they contributed. It was so gorgeous to see! We had such lovely feedback from both the kids and adults – many visited more than once, or stayed for quite a long time, and many said it was their favourite thing at the show! We especially loved hearing that our zone was a calm haven amongst the crazy, busy, noisy, expensive and instant-gratification of the rides/carnival-games/junk- food/showbags outside our pavilion. We had repeat comments about the value of ‘quality family time’, free-family-friendly, space to recalibrate, calm haven for kids, creative craft time, easy to replicate at home, held their kids attention, learning more about sustainability and reduce/re-use/recycle… and the words “slow cubby movement” were heard a number of times….

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Our Creative Cubby Project team!

I feel very fortunate to have been invited to be part of this fabulous community art engagement initiative!
A big thanks to the fabulous project co-ordinator, Pauline O’Shannessy-Dowling, (POD Design) who is a local Visual Artist, who creates intricate, whimsical drawings often with bright, bold colours. She regularly runs art-workshops with school children, encouraging creativity and artistic expression of imimaginative thinking.  And a big thanks to the lovely Liz Cummins, Ballarat Landscape Architect of ‘Bricolage Design‘ who specialises in play spaces and children’s landscapes. Liz also has a background in early childhood education – how lucky were we to have her wisdom and experience! Liz also wrote a great wrap-up of the weekend here. And for those who don’t know me, I’m Talina Edwards, of Ballarat-based sustainable design studio ‘Talina Edwards Architecture: elemental design‘, and also a mum to two creative young lads. I think together we made a great team, and please stay tuned for further news about where our Creative Cubby Project might pop up next!

Find out more:
Like us on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CreativeCubbyProject
Follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/creative_cubby
Email us at: creativecubbyproject@gmail.com

And as always, if I can assist in any way with your very own “eco – cubby”, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! ;o)

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Do you value creativity in kids? What’s your creative outlet? What do you do to “slow” down? (Please reply in the comments box below).


 

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, specialising in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions about environmental design. Don’t forget you can click here to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter  (or over there on the top right-hand side of this webpage) so you won’t miss out on our news!

 

Creative garden wonderland for Ballarat kids!

I wanted to share with you a few photos of a gorgeous art exhibition/installation/experience that is currently on in Ballarat. It is called “Emily and Margie’s Marvellous Magic Garden“…. and it truly is magical!

Local designers, artists and mothers, Margie Balazic and Emily Van Der Molen (Bunty and Sars) both spent many months putting this together! You can see their attention to detail and love of design, nature and the wonder of gardens. 99% of the installation is hand-made, and they also had the help of many local schools and pre-schools. The exhibition is very interactive, and encourages children (and children-at-heart) to engage with the art; including a chalkboard inside the cubby house, wall-murals to colour in, neon-coloured spots to decorate the house, a mini clothesline to colour in and hang up paper-dolls-clothes, a giant nest to read in, and a craft table with loads more activities! We could’ve stayed for hours! It is open until the 26th Oct, so I encourage you to pop down to experience it in person.

Talina Edwards Architecture

Open Thurs-Sun 12noon-5pm at Backspace Gallery, Camp Street

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My boys exploring! How amazing are the origami clouds?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A fluorescent tree! (So clever!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The attention to detail is truly amazing. Most of it is made from paper, card, straws…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gorgeous hanging vines of colour!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My youngest chilling out in the nest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More teeny tiny flowers, and lush green leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love the re-use of packing cardboard, and cotton-tips, and drinking straws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And complete with a miniature fairy toadstool house…so sweet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think the daffodils were my favourite flowers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Neon-fairy perched on the roof tiles.

 

 

 

 

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Kids enjoying being involved in the art – decorating the house with spots and dots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I love supporting the local creative community, and often share the love for all sorts of amazing events through social media, but not so often on the blog. But I wanted to this time, as it was such a lovely idea and outcome (and these women are rather fabulous!), and also because  I am excited to announce that I too will be involved in an artistic community event especially for children, “The Creative Cubby Project“, supported by The City of Ballarat, as part of this year’s Ballarat Show.

The project co-ordinator, Pauline O’Shannessy-Dowling, (POD Design) is a local Visual Artist, who creates intricate, whimsical drawings often with bright, bold colours. She regularly runs art-workshops with school children, encouraging creativity and artistic expression of imaginative thinking.  The other member of our team is Ballarat Landscape Architect, Liz Cummins of ‘Bricolage Design‘, who specialises in play spaces and children’s landscapes, and she also has a background in early childhood education. And of course myself, as an architect who loves sustainable design, and a mother who loves creative kids projects. I think we’ll make a fabulous team, and I’m really looking forward to it!

Talina Edwards Architecture POD Design Bricolage Design

 

We will be working with local children and their families to create an enormous eco-cubby house incorporating sustainable elements such as passive-solar design principles, solar energy, water tanks, vegie gardens and chooks. The Creative Cubby Project is FREE with show entry on Fri 7th, Sat 8th, Sun 9th November 2014, 9:30am-5pm in the Youth Pavilion. Please come by and say hi!

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To find out more, follow us on:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/creative_cubby

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CreativeCubbyProject

Email: creativecubbyproject@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

I love encouraging creativity and imagination in kids! And getting them involved with thinking about nature, gardens, buildings and their relationship to them. Do your kids love the outdoors too? What about your memories as a child – what did you love doing? Would love to hear in the comments below!

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Are all sustainable homes the same? (The past, present and future of green buildings.)

This post continues on our the theme of what a sustainable home is – and are they all the same? We’ll take a quick look at past, the present, and where we are (or should be!) headed in the future with regards to green buildings. Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, specialising in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions about environmental design. We recently began a series of posts covering the WHY, WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and HOW of sustainable design. 

renovations new homes green building central victoria

 

 

 

I recently wrote about “What is a sustainable house?” which looked at a definition, and listed ten characteristics that I believe constitute a truly sustainable home. But today I want to address how I view that “environmentally friendly” homes have changed in recent times.

I grew up in the bushy Eltham-area (in the outer north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne), which at the time was well-known as an artistic community, who were environmentally conscious with many mud brick homes amongst the trees. Local legend Alistair Knox was a designer, environmentalist, builder, landscape-architect and the arguably the ‘father’ of the alternative natural building movement. From the 1950s to the 1980s, and he designed and built countless earth buildings – for a full list see here!  So I was introduced to this “organic architecture” early on, to these homes made from natural materials of earth and timber, with large windows to connect to the native landscape, and a focus on a wood-fire hearth as the literal heart of the home.

So back then, then the emphasis was about what the house was made from. A focus on locally sourced, organic, natural materials (and living in a more connected way with the natural environment). 

This low-tech approach was (and is) also seen in the owner-builder alternative housing movement, in permaculture, in earth-ships, and also many primitive and vernacular buildings from around the world.

Mudbrick home Eltham Victoria

Environmental Design: the natural way
“Living in the Environment” by Alistair Knox 1975

 

Today, the focus is more about how the house performs. This is much more of a high-tech approach to the energy-efficiency of the building and its services.

There us so much talk about thermal dynamics and heating coefficients, or megajoules / kilowatt-hours / CO2 emissions and zero-carbon / R-values / ten-star rating / consumption per annum… numbers, statistics, technical jargon…

“Autonomous” homes (or those ‘off-the-grid’) of course need to understand all of this to meet their energy and water needs. These days though, many people seem to focus on these high-tech ‘add-ons’ to make their homes greener – instead of ensuring the building fabric is right first, or perhaps even looking more broadly at how sustainable their lifestyles are the choices they make.

To ensure a home “performs” well (which means that it is thermally comfortable with little need for additional mechanical heating/cooling) it is imperative that the building envelope is designed correctly. Today, sophisticated energy-rating software such as FirstRate (and international standards such as Passivhaus) focus heavily on science, statistics, and rigid criteria to get proven results for new buildings.

Unfortunately,  at times the ’embodied’ energy used to make manufacture/process/transport  some high-tech products/materials (e.g. metal or petroleum-derived plastic products or harmful chemical components/finishes) can outweigh the amount of energy that will actually be saved during the performance of the building…and can be toxic to our health, not to mention the earth. This can be a complicated mathematical equation to evaluate over the life of a building, with many factors and variables to be considered, so it can become even more confusing!

Solar Hot Water PV Photovoltaic Solar Power Energy

Green buildings: High-tech solutions
Solar Hot Water and Photovoltaics on Michael Mobbs’ roof in “Sustainable House” 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the first approach is a bit too hippy, and the second too nerdy…can we do BOTH?

YES! Both approaches are crucial for our future buildings to be more sustainable. And encouragingly, this does seem to be happening…

On the one hand, our souls crave the connection to nature, but we should also embrace new technologies which are making innovative breakthroughs all the time, which can improve our buildings and our lives.

On the other, if we continue our over-consumption and greedy ways, and think technology will save us, we are mistaken. It is only when we start thinking of the life-cycle of our built environment in the same ways as the natural environment that we will start to have truly sustainable buildings. 

As always, it is important to remember that sustainable design is NOT an aesthetic or a style, but a philosophical and theoretical approach to how the building is composed.  Please stay tuned to read more about the who, what, when, where, why, and of course we’ll get to the how of sustainable design.

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Are all sustainable houses the same? What do you think? What sort of sustainable home do you dream about living in? Does your heart lean more toward the warmth of timber and the texture of stone…or does your head get excited by the latest specs of photovoltaic panels? (I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!)

Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our monthly newsletter  (or over there on the top right-hand side of this webpage) so you won’t miss out on our posts!

 

 

 

 

5 ways to embrace springtime (for a healthier home – and life!)

Thank goodness Winter is over here in Ballarat…well almost…we’ve had a few teaser days of glorious Spring weather. There’s a lot to love about Winter, but I am certainly ready to embrace the change of seasons and celebrate the “newness” of Spring. It has a positive feel…some sunshine, fresh air, new blossoms signifying new life…So here are five ways to embrace the new season for a healthier home – and a healthier life.

Talina Edwards Architecture Spring Seasons  Celebrate

1. Air out the house!

The doors and windows have been tight shut all winter, keeping the cold out. But now is the time to open the house up and flush out the stale air and dust. On sunny, windy days, take out your bedding, pillows and cushions and let them get a good airing. Clean any mould or mildew that has built up inside (avoiding harsh chemicals of course; a bit of white-vinegar and elbow-grease usually does the trick!). The quality of our indoor air is very important to our health – and ventilation is the key. A few indoor plants will help purify the air too.

2. Get outdoors!

After spending so much time indoors over the colder months, it is now time to get outside! Time to get stuck into planting that vegie patch, go on a bush walk, or perhaps just take time to literally stop and smell the roses! It’s amazing how re-connecting to nature has such a positive impact on our  health and wellbeing.

3. Start a new activity!

Spring is all about new beginnings, and it’s the perfect time to start something new (or re-commence something you’ve stopped for a while). For me it is all about getting moving again after slowing right down over winter – so it’s time to start those yoga classes again! Perhaps it’s swimming, cycling, or just walking more now that the weather is not so nasty. Of course it could be something new that isn’t for your physical wellbeing, but something that enriches your mind/soul instead – as that is just as important.

4. Socialise!

Many of us go into a bit of hibernation over winter. But as soon as the weather warms a bit, it’s the perfect time to plan some BBQs or picnics and reconnect with friends and family before the Christmas rush! Good food, good conversation, good company = good times!

5. Buy and eat local seasonal produce!

So, last but not least, why not support your local community by visiting a Farmers Market. Our bodies thrive on fresh, organic, produce that is in season and not imported from miles away (which is just not sustainable). This can also cover many of the points above in one hit – get out of the house, perhaps ride your bike there, buy some seedlings to plant or fresh flowers, meet some friends there, enjoy the sun and fresh air, and make it a new habit to buy local! The new “Smart Living Market” (Ballarat Lakeside Farmers Market) just happens to be starting THIS Saturday morning 9am – 1pm, Windmill Drive, Lake Wendouree. This is now run by the local community organisation BREAZE (Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions)…so hope to see you there!

Farmers Market Lake Wendouree

 

Do you love Springtime too? How do you like to embrace Spring? I’d love to know in the comments below!

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P.S.  Don’t forget you can click here to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter  (or over there on the top right-hand side of this webpage) so you won’t miss out on our posts!