Sanctuary House

An original Canberra cottage is reimagined into a contemporary, light filled sanctuary…

Project Details

Location: Griffith, ACT

Completion: 2020

Respecting the solid character of interwar houses, their established trees and the dappled streetscapes that make vintage neighbourhoods so identifiable as being “of Canberra”, the clients were prepared to undertake extensive restoration to ensure a gracious cottage frontage would remain instated for another century – at least. 

Upon being welcomed inside a wide, gallery-like linking corridor introduces entirely different volumes of scale, expanses of glazing, a robust yet refined materiality, and an almost sensually-immediate connection between house and garden.

With the design of the new additions including so many large and small courtyards, only two of the four bedrooms share a common wall. With the parent’s suite set right at the rear of the block, behind the long living room, each retreating space has gained a maximum of possible privacy.

The layout, the north-east orientation, the light and this remarkable sense of respite led to the project being named the Sanctuary House. The clients love it, reporting to Collins Pennington Architects that “it brings us joy each day.”

They especially cite “the incredible functionality and the calm, minimalist aesthetic.”

Plantings, lawns, terraces and the old-school style backyard that has been deliberately uncluttered by pulling the pool’s cabana away from the additions, all serve another of the design criteria:
To keep as much of the sky and the living, growing, green realm in the frame.

The design of our home brings us joy every day. We chose the site for its extensive northern aspect, now framed by walls of glass and complemented by striking off-formed concrete walls -  a house of both light and substance. The open central living area is a perfect space for cooking, dining, relaxing, teenagers’ homework and entertaining - surrounded by garden to the north and south. In summer the glass doors are open wide and the interior merges with garden . In winter sun floods the house. The wide polished concrete hallway, known as "the gallery” not only seamlessly links the historic and new components of the home but provides an ideal place to display our artwork.  The parents retreat is truly that and a pleasure to wake up in each morning. Our teenagers enjoy their own retreat with large light-filled bedrooms and shared bathroom cleverly hidden off the main hallway. Our friends & family love staying in the privacy of the heritage guest room complete with chic ensuite. The restored heritage second living area complete with fireplace and outlook onto an internal courtyard is another beautiful and cosy space for our family to gather. Our home is incredibly functional with a calm minimalist aesthetic. The architect has fully delivered on our every desire and created a sanctuary from the busyness and stresses of life.