Lock Up!

We’ve been oiling the cedar boards and windows which look great, the timber softens the metal Spandek cladding. Pickering Joinery from Geelong supplied the glazed doors and windows.


Western Red Cedar windows, Silvertop Ash above, both yet to be oiled.


Bi-fold western red cedar doors, mechanisms smooth and sturdy.


Cladding going up around internal courtyard to be themed a Japanese garden.


Views to the city.

Photo 23-12-16, 4 05 50 pm (1).jpg



Roof on, cladding started


Rear two storey section roof on and Proctor wrap installed. Great view of the city from the upstairs living/kitchen dining area.

Lower roof with courtyard inset


View to St Brendan’s church and statue unexpected glimpse of the church from living areas

Lovely view through heritage houses back to St Brendans


Lots of natural light and ventilation through internal courtyard


Our own Japanese genkan or step up into the house proper, will have timber cupboards for shoes.

Footings Completed 

20 July 2016. All hands on deck for slab pour and concrete stump placing. Wirecon concreting brought in seven concrete trucks to fill the slab and stump holes. The guys were using the helicopter trowel for over three hours to achieve a burnished finish on the slab.

14 July 2016 under slab plumbing, trenches and form work

14 July 2016 blinding concrete placed

20 July 2016 Under slab insulation also to sides placed, membrane and mesh

Concrete placed including set down for ensuite and block retaining walls

Placing stumps

Concrete pump truck

Getting closer

To get the project within budget, we reviewed the engineering design to change a large part of the structural steelwork to timber along with deleting some windows and non-essential items. The front floor is changed to timber frame with burnished concrete slab for the lower level, providing some thermal mass. A builder is appointed and we’re on track to start construction in May!!


Sketch Design

These are the sketch design plans developed by Workshop Architecture for the tsubo-niwa inspired house.

site plan

Site context plan. The house covers a similar footprint to the neighbouring weatherboard houses.  North is up the page.

north elevation

North Elevation


Section. The house is single story at street frontage and becomes split level at the rear, with a half flight of stairs leading down to the bedroom, tatami, study and garden and a half flight of stairs up to the living/dining/kitchen, with balconies and outlook to city views.

ground plan

Ground floor. The layout is similar in essence to the original concept ideas, however it has a stronger symmetry, with the circulation and courtyard spaces centrally located. The tusbo-niwa remains with the onsen style bathroom adjacent. The master bedroom and tatami room each have corner opening windows on to the garden, a view framed from each space.

first floor

First Floor. Upstairs leads to the central hub of the house, the dining area with kitchen and living to the sides. Each space is extended by an outside balcony. The spaces themselves are differentiated by varying ceiling heights and treatments.

Design Concept


The overall conceptual idea for the house which Workshop Architecture came up with was inspired by traditional Japanese joinery details. Images are from the book ‘The Art of Japanese Joinery’ by Kiyosi Seike.

pic4 pic2 pic1 conceptfrontconcept rear

The interlocking wooden joinery forms are referenced in the interlocking forms of the larger building’s functional spaces. The blue forms denote enclosed balcony/external areas.

Initial ideas

photoWe worked up an initial concept, single storey at the front to match the bulk of the neighbouring weatherboard cottages, north side entry, small courtyard garden at the entry, two storey behind with bedrooms and tatami room on ground floor and living/dining kitchen on first floor.

The bathroom adjoins the courtyard with openable windows so we can create an onsen (Japanese hot bath) experience open to the outside, using a spa bath.

The upper level remained unresolved and the design was lacking an overall clear concept to tie it together. This combined with my lack of knowledge of the Victorian Building Regulations/Rescode and not having practiced architecture for over 10 years, led us to engage the help of old friends James Staughton and Simone Koch, from Workshop Architecture.

Richard Chenhall and Nerissa Kamat 2013