Claire's House


Location | Coombs, ACT

Date completed | April 2015

EER | 7.3 stars

Area | 129 m²

Builder | Jigsaw Housing

Images | Rod Vargas              

Awards | 2016 ACT Architecture New Home - Commendation

Featured | Pushing the Boundaries & Australia By Design TV series, 2017


Designed by a Gen-Y for a Gen-Y

Claire’s house provided a unique opportunity for a gen-Y architect to design a home for a gen-Y client; exploring an eclectic approach within a first-home-buyer's budget. The client required a flexible design: a home that would function immediately with housemates, and later as a family home. The sloping block and challenging orientation presented both constraints and opportunities, inspiring a stepped modular design that wraps around a central outdoor space. Surrounded by homes largely cut in, or built up, on their block, this house stands out for its gentle sloping form that matches the landscape, responding appropriately to place, climate and culture. With emphasis on energy efficiency throughout the design, this home achieves an EER of 7.3 stars, significantly improving comfort at the same time as dramatically reducing heating/cooling costs.

The design relied strongly on client-architect collaboration and contributions from other craftsman such as bricklayers, a mural artist and carpenters, to work on artistic features of the home.

To achieve this collaborative finished product, on a first-home-buyer’s budget, the architect and client thoughtfully planned for elements that she could complete after the finished build.

The client then coordinated or built items such as further custom joinery, decking and landscaping, the perforated metal carport door, plus engaged mural artist, John VOIR, to complete the large brick wall painting to the deck, viewed as a backdrop from the main living areas.

The house becomes an extension of the client’s creative style. An eclectic use of materials created a perfect base for the client’s broad taste. Concrete floors contrast with spotted gum stairs and an exposed Canberra red brick wall. Contrasting materials like gloss white with plywood, charcoal joinery with mirror splashbacks, and grey tiles with black wet area fixtures, creates a home that feels diverse, playful and interesting. The contrast of old and new,  such as the modern pendant lights next to the salvaged cottage-style sliding door on the ensuite, also compliments this pattern. This home is a clever example of art in architecture: as a tool for client involvement and collaboration; as well as a device for delivering an affordable, highly thoughtful and personalised home. 


Key features

3 bed, 1 living, 2 bath

557 m² sloping site with north running diagonally through the block

Double carport

Client coordinated and built joinery, decking, landscape and carport door

Designed to accommodate a changing lifestyle: separate bedroom wing for a studio, housemates or children in the future

Commissioned mural by VOIR on face brick adjacent to timber deck

Floor finishes: burnished concrete and tiles

Living areas connect to the north facing timber deck and garden

Tailored to the site and designed to our client's brief and budget using our Light House Modular approach



High performance PVC double glazing

Ceiling fans and cross ventilation only forms of cooling needed

R1 insulated slab

R2.5 insulation to exterior walls

R1.5 insulation to interior walls

R5 insulation to the ceiling

Vapour permeable building wrap to walls and roof

Minimal air leakage, well sealed building envelope (8 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals)

Evacuated tube solar hot water

Rainwater tank plumbed to garden taps, toilet and laundry