Our Building

The Bower tries to showcase and educate about reuse and repair in everything we do and our shopfronts are great examples of this. Not just any building, The Bower (Marrickville) is housed in what is believed to be Sydney’s first straw bale building and is still its only commercial one. Designed and built by our members, it is an evolving showcase of sustainable systems and techniques.

  • Made from agricultural waste.
  • Has high insulation and fire resistance.
  • Salvaged roof trusses, reused roofing iron, doors, windows, paving, light fittings, etc.
  • Roof is double skinned and insulated with foil lined thermal batts.
  • Two large rain water tanks plumbed into our kitchen.
  • All reused shop-fittings, shelving, storage units, counter displays, etc are from salvaged goods.
  • All internally painted surfaces have used preloved paint.
  • All flooring is reused secondhand pavers, broken mosaic tiles and floor boards.
  • Solar panels on the roof

In both our shopfronts you’ll find us using second-hand furniture and shelving for our displays and in Parramatta check out the shop counter, made by our own Bower staff using 100% from reclaimed timbers.

Did you know The Bower runs on Solar Energy?

In 2012 The Bower (Marrickville) installed Solar Panels. The new solar array and inverter was generously donated and installed by Greenforce, an ethical solar company based right here in Buckley Street, Marrickville, who supply and install top quality systems across Australia. The solar panels generate all our building’s energy needs and excess power is fed back into the Addison Road Community Centre to benefit surrounding organisations. Greenforce has a passion and focus to help residents and businesses not only cut electricity costs but also reduce environmental impact.

So a big thank you from The Bower team to logo
Show your support and visit www.greenforcesolar.com.au. They offer free quotes and inspections. If you’re thinking of getting a solar array installed at your place, remember that not all solar equipment is created equal and that there are traps for the unwary. Good quality solar panels should last at least 20 years, and good quality inverters should last for at least 10 years. Give the friendly and reliable folk at Greenforce a call and they can explain the workings of a proper solar system to even the most technically unsophisticated and come up with the system that is best matched to your particular situation. It won’t be quite as cheap as a bodgy system but it will give you a lot more satisfaction and it will save you a lot more money on your electricity bills for a lot longer.
Also in late 2012 we finally finished work on our staff area two-storey extension. This now provides staff kitchen facilities, storage and our third workshop/sorting area. It’s a hidden jewel so do ask to have a look when you visit. Made entirely of ‘rubbish’, we used broken tiles for mosaics on the floor, broken pallets got refinished to form window frames and even the windows and doors are a collage of odd windows we found on the streets. A shady corner was decked with old timber soaked in old oil and planted up with drought tolerant plants to form a shady spot to sit and eat lunch and for our worm farm and compost bin. It’s a shining example of reuse architecture and low impact and low cost building.
We also keep refining our passive solar design. Apart from the cross ventilation, you will also notice all our windows are tucked up under the large overhanging roof and the extensive skylights are all on the rear of the building to avoid direct sunlight heating the building in summer, while at the same time providing lots of natural light. The straw bale is a natural insulator but with all our large open doors it is hard to keep the heat in or out depending on the time of year. To combat this we have popped roof vents which can be open and closed and are designed to catch cool breezes in summer, while in winter they direct the warm air heated by the sun which is trapped in-between our two roof layers back down into the store (they are also clad in vinyl records!)
Future projects will involve hooking up the underfloor heating/cooling pipes we laid when building the kitchen to our rain water tanks and adding more shade structures to the back yard.