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Print_33 Denning Street, South Coogee-6
Version 2 (6)
Sitting Bedroom
Bedroom 1 Sitting
Bedroom 2
Balcony View
Bedroom 3
Top Balcony

Photos by Sharrin Rees & Skyline Creative


Judges citation

  • A creative, well-crafted and unpretentious home for a family living its environmental values.

  • The house started life as an uninsulated, poorly ventilated secondary dwelling with awkward site conditions to repair.  An old swimming pool was repurposed to an underground water storage tank and useable spaces were gained from a steeply terraced site.

  • Carefully placed new windows, sliding walls and metal mesh flooring in circulation areas amplify interior space out of the modest original footprint. 

  • The designer has been guided by Japanese aesthetics for attention to the everyday details and extensive use of reclaimed timber. In keeping with a ‘no paint’ philosophy, the bold use of acoustic panels has created light and peaceful, non-reverberant interiors in a windy, seaside location – a standout feature in contemporary housing.



Kenzai, Coogee

Kenzai is a beautifully renovated home overlooking the ocean, inspired by Japanese/Scandinavian design. This has been our largest project to date and has allowed us to incorporate building system design, external material specification, landscape and even pool design into our practice. Our pride in the project is due to the fact that we have been able to pack the place with so many sustainable elements, which include :

• Micro-inverter 5 kW solar array producing on average over 7000 kWh per annum.

• Existing pool converted to 25,000L rainwater tank provides water to 3 toilets & all garden needs.

• Recycled hardwood, double-glazed doors & window frames, sealed with natural sealant.

• Insulation throughout. Heat recovery ventilation units ‘breathe’ for the well-insulated house.

• Re-use of existing solar hot water system.

• Floor & wall tiles with ‘Cradle to Cradle’ accreditation in all wet spaces.

• Bench tops made from 75% recycled materials, 25% natural stone & eco resin.

• Recycled cedar screens, panels & cabinetry. Kitchen cabinetry in Oak veneer, E0 frames.

• Low energy lighting & appliances throughout.

• 4-star WELS-rated WCs flushed with rainwater from on-site rainwater tank.

• 5-star WELS-rated sink and shower taps throughout. 6-star WELS-rated kitchen sink mixer tap. 

• 5-star WELS-rated showerheads. Cedar bathtub made in Victoria

• Ceilings - Ground floor ceilings lined with Green Tag Platinum-rated internal cedar flat panel boards. All other ceilings - existing floating ceilings removed to expose concrete slabs.

• Internal walls - either lined with acoustic panels made from 60% recycled PET, Green Tag Gold-rated, or lined with Magnesium Oxide (Mg0) boards - less embodied energy than fibre cement panels, sealed with matt Silicate stain.

• External walls - either clad with Green Tag Platinum-rated external cedar boards (natural sealant applied) or lined with MgO boards sealed with matt Silicate stain.

• Flooring – Ground floor existing tiles removed exposing concrete floors for thermal mass, polished & sealed with natural oil. 

Oak floorboards from sustainable sources in Ground floor corridor & master ensuite with natural sealant applied. Wool carpets in all other spaces.

• Permaculture kitchen garden - large self-watering planter boxes, compost, native bees & plants.

• New concrete pool - solar pool water heating, salt-water self-chlorinating system. Maximised use of onsite-generated solar power to run equipment.

To begin with, the existing building was stripped bare of its dated internal linings, exposing a series of long, horizontal concrete layers stepping down the steep site. Internal volumes were carved out creating a progression of interconnecting internal and external spaces, transitioning vertically from public zones at ground level to private areas below. 


This created a new central void, with a perforated metal ‘bridge’ installed to link living areas, improving airflow, sight lines, light and the sense of volume in the centre of the house. Vertical progression via the central void leads to the flexible middle floor where sliding, translucent partitions hide/reveal spaces for the resident teenagers whilst maximising light. The private master suite on the lowest level, that was once a warren of rooms, now has an easy flow between its spaces and the outdoors. The remodelling of the existing structure was followed by the integration of timber window and door frames, heat-recovery ventilation, rainwater collection and efficient power systems.


Environmentally sustainable and biophilic design principles guided all program resolutions in this project, and using ‘eco’ products created not only a healthy indoor environment and low embodied carbon footprint but also provided an opportunity to creatively re-think what a contemporary house can look like. An experimental approach, with products being successfully used in new, untried applications, has created distinctive forms and materially rich spaces.

With many thanks to our wonderful building team from Life Structures, electrical team from Electricus, painted finishes by Natural Colour & cabinetry by Timberline Joinery. Tiles by Mosa supplied by Design Republic. Designed in collaboration with Brian Van Der Plaat Design.

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