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Wonga Street House

The search for a site proved to be the biggest challenge for this project – the owners found us before they located a suitable block for a knock-down/rebuild in Canberra’s inner north.

From brief to block

Their brief from the outset was clear – a simple, beautiful and sustainable home with flexible spaces that could adapt as their family’s needs changed over time.

Consideration of and connection to the landscape was also essential: the house is planned around a large deciduous tree; the north facing dining area flows seamlessly to the back yard via a generous deck; and windows throughout the home are positioned to carefully frame views to the garden.

The external material palette is restrained but expressive: cedar-framed windows and doors and the yellow clad sound studio/study space offset the predominantly grey brick and black shadowclad façade.

Inside, the concrete floor provides thermal mass, and a striking fireplace, formed in concrete along one wall of the lounge room provides extra winter warmth.

At the 2015 ACT Architecture Awards, this project received an Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New), and was shortlisted in the Sustainable Architecture Category. Find out more from the client’s point of view on their blog about the build and read what CAPITAL magazine had to say about the house.

Key features

  • 3 bedrooms, 3 living areas, 2 bathrooms (House floor area 180m2)
  • 766m2 flat site with orientation of north to the side
  • Single carport
  • Concrete bench incorporating buit-in wood fireplace in lounge room
  • Third living area can be used as a multi-purpose space of guest bedroom
  • Extensive customised joinery including robes, kitchen, study and hallway storage
  • Separate study/music room with added sound proofing and storage
  • Floor finishes include; concrete, tiles and carpet
  • Northern facing timber deck and entertainment area
  • Tailored to the site and designed to our client’s brief and budget


Sustainable elements

  • EER of 8 stars (predicted annual energy use 53% lower than a 6 star design)
  • High levels of insulation in walls (R2.5) + ceilings (R5)
  • Burnished concrete flooring with R1 insulation to slab edge + underside
  • Thermal mass of slab used to regulate internal temperatures
  • Vapour permeable building wrap to control moisture and reduce air movement past insulation
  • Testing to ensure building envelope integrity: thermographic inspection of insulation and fan depressurisation to ensure airtightness
  • 8.2 air changes per hour at 50Pa (typical Canberra house 15-25)
  • Window and eave sizes optimised through scientific analysis and collaboration with architect
  • Small electric radiator panels for heating
  • Ceiling fans for cooling
  • PVC double-glazed, tilt + turn windows + timber double glazed windows
  • 5,000 litre water tank
  • Evacuated tube solar hot water
  • 3kW PV system
  • All communal/living spaces have northern glazing