Thorn Place House


Location | Curtin, ACT

Date completed | September 2011

EER | 7.5 stars (started at 2.5)

Area | From 177m² to 186m²

Builder | Jigsaw Housing

Images | Rod Vargas

Awards2012 Mervyn Willoughby Thomas Architecture Award for Renovation - Commendation

2014 ACT Sustainable Cities Award for Residential Buildings - Commendation

Featured | Australian Government Your Home Technical Guide Case Study & Sanctuary Magazine Issue 20, 2012


Adaptation was the key

Mindful of the future, the clients also wanted an adaptable home that could be split into two self-contained units – providing a potential source of income rather than becoming an empty nest.

To achieve these aims, we kept upstairs changes to a minimum and reworked the downstairs floor plan: relocating the kitchen to the former living area, expanding the lounge room space, and moving the upper storey stairs to the hallway.

Improved natural light, a full kitchen refit and the addition of an expansive deck, accessible by ramp, have vastly improved the home’s liveability.

New insulation, improved solar access and hydronic heating have delivered substantial improvements in energy performance: electricity consumption has halved, and the home has achieved an 8-star rating for the downstairs areas and a 7-star rating for the upper floor.

*This project was selected as the ACT Case Study in the Australian Government’s publication Your Home: Australia’s guide to environmentally sustainable homes and was featured in Sanctuary Magazine Issue 20 in late 2012. You can read a blog about how it copes in the summer heat here and the winter cool here.


Key Features

Renovation | Floor plan reconfigured and ground floor ceiling increased to improve light, warmth and connection to the outdoors, while improving overall energy efficiency

Extension | 92m² added to existing footprint to increase size of living room and entry

826m² flat site with orientation of north to the street

Customised joinery throughout existing house and extension including 'close-away' study desk nooks

Large internal sliding doors allow separation of living areas

Designed with the ability to transform one family home into two separate units, each with their own northern terrace

Future planning for 'aging in place' with wheel chair access to the ground floor

Tailored to the site and designed to our client's brief and budget



Recycling/reuse of old stairs, kitchen and bathroom

Reuse of all white goods

Bamboo flooring

High perfomance lead-free PVC windows (tilt and turn, tilt and slife mechanisms)

Recycled polystyrene insulation retrofitted to existing walls

Hydronic heating

Ceiling fans

LED lighting

Solar hot water

Shared laundry

Water tanks plumbed to toilet and laundry

Low VOC finishes throughout

The combination of architect/expert client has shown how a thoughtful renovation and garage addition emphasises modern comfort.
— Architecture Awards Jury