With over 14 years experience in the local and international architectural field, Kalliopi Vakras Architects (KVA) have certainly earned a solid reputation.

They’re renowned for their attention to detail, use of materials, experiential qualities of space, and for their use of natural light to create an enjoyable, useable, poetic and sustainable space – just some of the things that have now become known as the KVA signature.

“I provide a unique response to each brief and site, and I produce clean designs that play with light and shadow and respond to the specifics of the site,” said Kalliopi Vakras.

“By utilising natural light and considering orientation, we are providing sustainable spaces. We also consider the sustainability of the materials we choose to work with.”

A highlight for Kalli over the years was designing the Leaf House Project. Here insulated precast concrete panels were used in non-traditional form. A leaf pattern was carved into the walls and as the sun moves around during the day a leaf pattern moves throughout the space. Each day is a different experience in the house depending on the season and time of day.

Another was the Balwyn House which featured on Australia’s Best Houses, along with some of the smaller-scale, housing projects where Kalli worked with the clients to produce unique designs that met their `dream home’ requirements.

“I have also worked on a number of retail and hospitality projects which are playful and a different level of detail,” she said. “While a residential project might take 1-2 years from drawing board to move-in date, a retail project might take 5 weeks from start to finish, so it is great to see the end result so quickly and to see how people use the space.”

With such a strong sense of design and history in Melbourne, we are thrilled to have Kalli and her team at KVA design The Modern Home feature at the Build & Renovating Expo. This year the purpose-built feature will shed some light on innovative and realistic ways to make the most of your outdoor spaces.

We took five with Kalli to discuss what it means to have a sustainable space; some of the new eco materials they’re working with; and the design process behind  The Modern Home.


What does a `sustainable space’ mean to you?

It means space that people love to use. A warm space that is natrualy heated in winter and passively cooled in summer. It minimises the use of articifical lighting during the day. It uses materials that are warm, natural, renewable and recyclable. It considers the life cycle costs over the life of the project. It considers the future use of the occupants.

What are some of the innovative eco products you are working with that maximise the star rating and ensure a green sustainable home?

We are working with Ozone Panel on a number of projects. In particular we have finished designing a 6 x 6 x 6m Cube house. This compact house is fully off the grid, uses composting toilets, touches the earth lightly as it sits on 4 points and collects and harvests its own rainwater.

We are always mindful of the ESD qualities of the products we specify. We carefully consider the orientation of glazing before determining window locations and sizes as well as what type of window they are.

This year KVA have designed the Modern Home Display at the Build & Renovating Expo – what can you tell us about this exciting feature? How did you approach the design from sketch to finished product? What will be the key sustainable features KVA are renowned for?

Providing a design that showcases new eco products coming onto the market. The general idea was to provide two pods – a Granny Flat and a Teenager’s Retreat. The two pods faces a central garden area with an outdoor kitchen. The teenager’s pod was angled to draw the eye into the centre of the display.

The Granny Flat was made with Ozone Panel and represents a more traditional ‘house’ form.

Can you share some exciting projects you are currently working on?

We are working on multiple projects, ranging from a tiny 30m2 hospitality project to a multi-use project where we are incorporating various eco-materials and systems.

We are also working on a new house in Portsea which takes advantage of some breathtaking views. The house cantilevers over parts of the sloping site to avoid major cuts to earth. It will feature rammed earth walls for thermal mass and a range of passive eco design principles.

Discover The Modern Home at the Build & Renovating Expo from 4-6 July at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit buildexpo.com.au