Jarrah Block House

Like many Australian families, our clients for the Jarrah Block House were residing in a home which no longer suited their lifestyle. The original semi-detached house comprised multiple small, dark and separate living spaces with limited natural light and ventilation. The most significant result of the original planning was the socially isolating nature of the house. Typical daily tasks of food preparation, eating, study and work sent the family to separate areas of the home. The challenge was to solve the spatial, light and ventilation issues while creating a space which enabled the family to spend more time together.


Our solution was to bring together as many communal spaces as possible into one great room. To do this would require an ordering device; one grand piece of furniture, unifying all the living activities and ensuring they would complement, not compete with one another.


Conceptually we began with this single unifying element; a solid block of Jarrah running through the centre of the house connecting all the living spaces and rising vertically to the upper level. We then subtracted volume from the block to create spaces for working areas, eating and cooking zones and a passage for circulating to the upper level. This vertical void served the dual purpose of vertical circulation and natural light filter, drawing daylight from the lampshade skylight on the upper level, down into the centre of the living spaces below. This design strategy provided an element which effectively unified all the communal tasks while still providing individual zones with very specific requirements.

  The home employs multiple strategies to create a largely self sufficient home – a particular desire for our Client. Double-glazed and thermally broken windows, super-insulated building envelope, hydronic heating, rainwater harvesting for all the water needs including drinking, greywater reuse /reedbed purification for garden irrigation and a photovoltaic array which powers the home as well as returning electricity to the grid.Ultimately our design solution sought to embrace a broader concept of sustainability incorporating not only a plethora of environmental systems but also a social agenda to unite the family when at home.






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