Lawson House


Location | Lawson, ACT

Date completed | June 2016

EER | 8.1 stars

Area | 116m²

Builder | 35 Degrees 

Images | LightStudies

Awards | 2017 Sustainability Awards, Single Dwelling New - Finalist


A tiny oasis amongst the McMansions

These down-sizer's came to us seeking a fresh start and a new lifestyle. They had purchased a very small block in the new suburb of Lawson, and wanted an energy efficient, space efficient home that would retain some backyard and provide them with a comfortable place to retire in.

Having designed similar homes before using our Modular design system, we were able to quickly develop a concept, and take them to visit similar completed homes. Although the block had a very narrow northern frontage to the rear, we were still able to achieve a home that performs at an impressive 8.1 stars EER, and provides a sunfilled northern outlook to the main living area, and spare sitting room.

Our brief to Sarah was to design a house with clean, simple, well designed spaces that are light and airy. We wanted a thermally comfortable, energy efficient, and low maintenance house, as well as good quality fittings, materials, and build. Our house has achieved all of that and more. We couldn’t be happier
— The clients

Flexibility is key when designing a small footprint home. The open plan living area allows the dining and lounge areas to ‘borrow’ space from one another. The bedroom features double sliding doors that allow it to open up to the hallway and adjacent study nook, creating a large light-filled space that can easily be closed for privacy if there are visitors. A guest ‘bedroom’ is thought of as more of a sun filled flexible room, perfect for reading, craft, or a visitor. Tricks such a raked ceilings, higher doorways and windows, soft pelmet lighting, and integrated joinery mean that this 116m² home feels spacious and airy.

Affordability was addressed by focusing on space effectiveness and simple materials. Common clay bricks and charcoal metal cladding, a simple carport, and plain white joinery all contribute to a modest, timeless, cost effective home.

On a street in Lawson, surrounded by a street of McMansions with no backyard, this little house is a peaceful retreat. Juxtaposed with vast power guzzling statement ‘caves’ beside it, we’re proud of this modest, comfortable, light filled home and the quality of life it affords its inhabitants.


Key features

1 bed + multi-room, 1 living, 1 bath

330m² sloping site with north to the rear

Single carport

Designed for a retiree lifestyle: low maintenance, ease of circulation, and comfortable

Raked ceiling and pelmet lighting

Flexible combined bedroom/study or separate spaces

Floor finishes: bamboo and tiles

Living space connects to the north facing outdoor patio

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  are the only forms of cooling needed

R1 insulated slab

R2.5 insulation to exterior walls

R1.5 insulation to interior walls

R5 insulation to the roof space

Vapour permeable building wrap to walls and roof

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

Solar hot water

5,000L water tank plumbed to garden taps, toilets and laundry

Built in provision for future installation of solar PV