Common House


The Common House is a project that is about sharing.

Situated on a low lying street by Queenscliff Lagoon near Manly, the site provided a number of idiosyncratic challenges, but more importantly some equally unlikely potential.

The flat site is entirely within the flood zone and meant that the new house had to be raised approximately 900mm above the previous dwelling on the site. Foundations are sand, requiring footings to be constructed on a series of piles ranging up to 10m deep.

However, the social character of the neighbourhood embodies a high level of permeability and open-ness. A key part of the brief was for controlled engagement with the street to the front and shared lagoon frontage to the rear. Fences are non existent (except where required for pool safety), and the rear of the house functions as a raised platform from which to see and be seen by passing children, pets and kayakers.

Spatially the Common House is clearly articulated between private spaces upstairs and shared spaces downstairs. This clear delineation has allowed the ground floor to be as open and engaged with its surrounds as possible.

In material terms, the Common House uses relatively common materials in a considered way that celebrates the inherent properties of each. The house is fitted with a 5KW PV system, Low E glazed hardwood windows, external operable venetian blinds and rainwater harvesting tanks to minimise impact and passively moderate the internal environment.

The house provides a space for the growth of a family, but perhaps more importantly it serves as part of a network of connected spaces in a street where community is encouraged. This socially nurturing aspect of the brief is regrettably rare on projects such as this, yet paradoxically has perhaps been the single principle that has led to the most joy in this house.


Project Team : Matt Elkan, Daina Cunningham

Builder : Lawson and LovellEngineer : SDAHydraulics : NB Engineers

Landscape Architect : Lindy Hulton-Larson

Photographs : Simon Whitbread


Awards || Publications


2017 NSW HIA CSR 'Greensmart Sustainable Home'

The Daily Telegraph Home Magazine - November 17, 2017

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