Karrinyup Residence

Clever design on a challenging site, perfect for bringing the outdoors in.

Built on a very challenging site, this property is tapered from the front at 10m wide down to 5m at the rear. Designed for clients who like an open home we included a central courtyard with bifold doors that the clients open every morning. We also used lots of timber and natural materials.


Narrow sites are challenging at the best of times, but when the front of the property faces southeast it becomes even more difficult. How do we get northern light into the centre of the home to warm it in winter?

How do we keep the sun out and the temperature down in summer?


We overcame some of these challenges with the use of a central courtyard and stairwell. The central courtyard has a north-eastern aspect, which allowed us to bring plenty of winter morning sun into the home. The clients had the option to install an adjustable louvred roof system to keep out morning summer sun, but it hasn’t been needed to this day.

Sustainable features

One of the main sustainable features of this home is that it rarely requires heating or cooling. The central courtyard is very effective for controlling temperatures, but we also included a few other elements to maximise efficiency. These include louvred windows around the central stairwell that act as an extraction system for the home.

By opening up these windows, the occupants can control the amount of air movement through this space. As warm air rises, it naturally moves through the building to exit the stairwell and is replaced with cool air. This passively cools the home. For more information on how this works, read up on the Bernoulli’s Principle.


In winter, on the other hand, this stairwell essentially becomes a glasshouse as morning sun floods the area. The concrete slab at the base of the stairs stores heat, which is then released as the home cools down, helping to stabilise the internal temperature.

We also used timber framing on the upper floor, where all the bedrooms are located, to ensure they remain cool on summer nights. This works because timber doesn’t store heat as much as other materials and will cool down quickly in the evening.

let’s work together

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