Refurbishment of an existing 1960s monocrete house in O’Connor for an academic couple.  The aim was to make the house more liveable and solve some underlying condensation issues caused by the monocrete system of construction.  Another aim was to improve storage, upgrade all internal rooms and connect the internal spaces to the external environment through discrete views via a large screen to the street side of the house.  The screen is an interpretation of one of the owner’s paintings and provides privacy and shading to the western side of the house.  Eventually it will form part of the garden as a vertical screen of plants.

The house has improved sustainable design outcomes through 7 kw of PV solar, recycled materials, increased insulation, sealing, in floor displacement heating and cooling, and low energy fittings.

Recently Secret Garden House won the Gene Willsford Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (alterations and additions) and the Pamille Berg Award for Art in Architecture in the Australian Institute of Architects Awards.

Jury citation:

The Secret Garden House is a modest monocrete house that has been transformed into a delightful and comfortable home charged with a new lease on life.

Central to the client’s brief for the project were the requirements for repair and for retreat.

With the original house having succumbed to significant condensation issues, an ambition to repair without material removal of the original structure was mutually established. Reflecting adept ability, skilful detailing of the internal walls has resolved the underlying construction issues whilst judiciously retaining the integrity of both structure and building footprint. The more apparent aspects of the interior fitout – presenting as a series of enticingly subtle insertions – complete a revived interior in which every detail demonstrates astute consideration and restraint.

The architect’s approach to the provision of privacy is a true delight – a gesture as bold as it is quirky. Balancing concealment with connectivity, a timber screen, located to support a new entrance threshold, cloaks the length of the existing facade. Conceptually derived from one of the client’s own artworks, the screen has been designed to support a dynamic array of foliage – a (vertical) garden serving to not merely conceal, but to mediate light and view.

Deeply considered and highly responsive to the client’s needs, CCJ Architects has delivered an impressively clever and memorable project.

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