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Carla Karsakis, Sustainable Building Designer

Carla Karsakis“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” MahatmaGhandi

Carla has recently launched Etica Studio, fusing a love of design and passion for sustainability into a Building design and interiors firm which aims to provide alternative living options with an ode to the rustic beauty of recycling.

For the past 12 years Carla has worked extensively in the land development sector in urban design, and architecture whilst designing residential homes and conducting her own renovations and small scale developments. Her experience combined with her degree in Architecture and post graduate qualifications in Environmental Sustainability have given her a has a strong grasp on the context of building design within ‘place’ and the built and natural environment.

One of the most defining moments for her career was on a recent holiday travelling through South America with her husband.

“We were in the heart of Bolivia travelling to the outskirts of the Amazon in a car with a Bolivian chef, a Bolivian tour guide and a Spanish photographer from Madrid.

We were sharing stories in broken Spanglish about our home country, where we live and the homes we live in.

Our home at the time was a typical Bedford character home, boxy and small by Australian standards, but when the rest of the car heard that we lived in a home that was 100sqm they exclaimed that we must be “ rich gringo’s” and that 100sqm was very big by Bolivian and Spanish standards. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that other Australian homes are sometimes around 300sqm.

“This experience really struck me despite having always felt that we must reduce the size of our homes. There is no real point in building a 300sqm house, orientating it towards the sun and adding in photo voltaics and sustainable technologies. I feel that as a society we need to think differently about the homes that we construct and challenge some of the “norms” that have become common in the marketplace. Blocks are getting smaller and homes are getting larger, meaning less garden and opportunities for families to grow fruit and vegetables, or simply connect with the outdoors.”

It was on this trip that Carla embarked sketching designing a ‘case study home’ for Etica Studio - An energy and space efficient home on a small rear block under the part shade of a grand old Jacaranda tree. The self brief was to use as many recycled, vintage or up-cycled materials as possible, whilst challenging the norms of what we would ordinarily expect of a dwelling in Perth. In addition Carla and her husband wanted the home to feel settled in its surroundings and reference similar architectural vernacular.

The result is an art decoesque warehouse style home of 140sqm with 3 bedrooms one ensuite/dressing room, bathroom (with built in laundry) and no car garage. The walling system utilised is Paneco, a Structural Insulated Panel System which has a high insulation value, whilst internally the honed concrete floor and recycled brick feature wall act as a heat sink.

The majority of elements were sourced from salvage yards and private sellers including all windows and doors (internal and external) structural columns and feature beams, kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, sinks, basins, tiles, floorboards, skirtings and light fittings.

The home also contains a grey water system, heat pump / solar hot water system and soon to be installed rainwater tanks, all technologies that Carla believes should be common practice in today’s residential homes. Despite the eco credentials of the case study home, the extensive use of the recycled materials within the home adds a sense of age and soul.

“There is something poetic about a piece that has stood the test of time that was created with hands and has been loved by someone at some point, and it is this same love that I intend to inject within the homes and interiors that I design at Etica Studio”.

For more visit www.eticastudio.com.au

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