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Owner and host Quentin Irvine questioned why humans are so wasteful when there is no waste in nature? Inspired to create a space that was sustainable and healthy, Quentin set out to develop and build The Recyclable House. AND When we say set out – that meant a career change and apprenticing – not exactly a walk in the park. Though Quentin was driven by the desire to make a difference. The result? A home that challenges modern building practices and a space that is not only healthy and sustainable but thought provoking.⁠

The Recyclable House | Meet The Makers

4 Bedrooms | 2.5 Bathrooms

Rates from $280 per night

The Recyclable House was built by host and owner Quentin Irvine of Inquire Invent. The aesthetic inspiration for the home was drawn from the iconic Australian woolsheds which we all can picture in our minds. What sets this house apart is the use of experimental, closed loop, “cradle-to-cradle” design and construction methodologies. Quentin was always drawn to the philosophy that there is no waste in nature, and humans being wasteful doesn’t fit with this. The result is a house that could be taken apart and the materials recycled for a new purpose. With a bold zincalume finish on the outside, the inside has an honest and functional fit-out, with plenty of native timber and a wood fire that create a cosy and welcoming environment.

The home is located in the town of Beaufort – a quiet Victorian town on the way to the Grampians and only 40 minutes from Ballarat.  

We had chat with owner, inventor and designer, Quentin Irvine to discuss his inspiration behind The Recyclable House.

How did you end up designing and building The Recyclable House?

I’m an electronics engineer by background. Working in the solar industry I spent most of my days at the desk – wiring software and programming, all which is quite tedious stuff. I really wanted to do something with my hands. As a hobby I started making things – bags, sewn goods, and furniture, so I suppose you could say there was always a passion to do more in the design space and to make real things.

I started apprenticing with architects and builders, which I did for about 2.5-3 years. From this I gained the skills to design and build The Recyclable House.

What inspired you to build a recyclable house?

When I was young I read about the philosophy of ‘cradle-to-cradle’, and this has stuck with me. It encouraged me to look at nature and understand more about the natural cycle of things. There’s no waste in nature – so why are humans so wasteful? The other aspect to this, is that it’s more of a modern phenomenon that the things that we create can’t be recycled and reused.

What does that mean for choice of materials and building methodology?

Extensive research went into designing the house for recyclability. What this means is that we started with pure materials and worked in a way that made sure that we weren’t contaminating them during the construction process. Therefore, everything can be repurposed or returned to nature. For example, the house is screwed and nailed together to avoid nasty glues and resins. If we needed to use sealants or glues, they are largely natural and biodegradable.

Does it impact how you live and feel in the house?

Yes! A positive bi-product of using natural materials and finishes is the indoor air quality. It’s great for those afflicted with ‘sick building syndrome’ (SBS), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) or people who are sensitive to environmental toxins.

Where did the inspiration behind the design come from?

It was important to me to not get too heavily influenced by one style. So I didn’t crawl through specific books, so to speak. The materials informed a large part of the design and the style that evolved. I must say, I absolutely love this country and I hold dear a connection to the land and the great Australian rural vistas. Being able to celebrate that in my own way was important to me. I was also inspired by Glenn Murcutt – I think more subconsciously than consciously, but a number of his homes are designed for recyclability and he’s previously incorporated shed like elements. I also like Japanese design so we utilised charred timber cladding (Yakisugi) on one side of the house.

The Recyclable House | Your Hosts Quentin and Katherine

The Recyclable House, Beaufort, is a stylish country getaway. It is an experimental, modern family home designed and built by the owners using closed loop, passive-solar, construction principles. It is a prototype house for the circular economy.

Home: The Recyclable House

Photography: Nic Granleese

Looking for more holiday home inspiration? Check out our latest Meet The Maker features here

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Brett Diedrich

Brett Diedrich

Prior to creating the Origins Guide Brett was a management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group where he worked across Europe and the Middle East. Originally from Australia Brett has lived in the USA, Denmark, Hong Kong and the UAE. These days you'll find Brett in Melbourne and regional Victoria shaping the Origins Guide and meeting hosts of unique homes. Brett enjoys spending time with his partner Johan, visiting friends and family (including his gorgeous niece Charlotte), exploring new destinations, places to stay and of course food.

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