Three Peaks House

Washington house is a small, comfortable, and accessible home for a retired couple in their older years. This small house is filled with light, space, and will be warm and a joy to live in.

The building responds to the Toomath and Wilson Architects designed St Matthews Church to the north. The roof form plays up to the 1960’s church and plays down to the villa to the south. It is fully accessible on the ground floor with flat access, accessible areas inside and out.

The house showcases a working example of how the older people can take a different route from moving into retirement villages, instead staying close to family and connected to communities.


The site is long and narrow, and drops away about one story to the west. The clients were future planning, seeking all key functional spaces to be accessible on one level, and were motivated to keep the size of the home as small as possible. This created challenges for the layout on the narrow site.  Methods such as identifying key functional areas, ensuring turning circles, spaces that give a sense of space, ramps, a flat deck, and a one level route from the front to the back of the house were utilised to create accessibility and a sense of space.

As a retired couple in their older years, our client’s brief was centred around the idea of ‘future proofed accessibility’. They wanted a small house with spaces that were close together, easy to clean, and easy to heat.  With a fixed income, the client was motivated to keep the build costs as low as possible.

The design of the home splits it into three areas: a large garage with a workshop (one of the clients is a retired engineer who still loves to tinker), a two-storey bedroom area, and an open plan living, dining and kitchen area. The ground floor bedroom is the master bedroom and fully accessible. The first-floor bedroom can be used as a guest room for when family want to stay.

Washington house is constructed using timber framing with additional steel portals selected to support the sawtooth form. This allows for a higher ceiling, letting in more light, and creating the feel of a larger space. To create a warm, dry, healthy home 140mm framing was used, enabling more insulation to be fitted.

Vertical cedar cladding further solidifies the context relationship between the neighbouring church and villa. The church uses a vertical cedar of the same width, so the new cladding compliments the old. the new design acts as an intermediary transition from the large church to the neighbouring villa , with the south side clad in rusticated weatherboards mirroring the villa. 

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