2013 National Architecture Awards: Small Project

Keperra House by A-CH (Atelier Chen Hung) Small Project Architecture: National Award Australian Institute of Architects

Jury citation

This one-person house is a useful model for super-small-scale suburban living as well as a beautifully finetuned response to a specific place. It recalls caravans and shearing sheds in its robust material palette, parsimonious planning and humility.

Keperra House contains the suburban garden experience for the main house and creates a framed view of the landscape beyond through its central covered courtyard. It forms an active edge to the linear park along the river. Its cantilevered, tapered edge exaggerates the smallness of the pavilion viewed from the public realm, intensifying its reading as a thickened garden wall.

Apertures are carefully considered to create rich experiences in the diminutive spaces. The large, full-height opening in the triangular end of the living room extends the space into the landscape. The house has operable walls and screens, allowing it to fully shut down into a bunker-like prism. It is a low-maintenance option for its temporary inhabitants.

The material language of the house is direct. Robust materials are used in their raw state. Off-form concrete and galvanized sheet metal on a lightweight frame create an effective combination of ground-coupled thermal mass and elevated insulated skin, as well as a zero-maintenance external expression. Detail is experimental yet economic – an oversized folded galvanized gutter doubles as the solar control device over large windows. The interiors are a play in plywood lining and joinery.

This project provides a model for suburban density that retains the sense of house-in-garden by treating the secondary dwelling as a swollen, programmed fence. It addresses the increasing number of single-person families, older children staying at home, the desire to age in place and the need for increased density in our suburbs.

Read the project review by Aaron Peters for Houses.

Products and materials

Lysaght Custom Orb Zincalume; Ampelite Custom Orb fibreglass in ‘Opal White’.
External walls
Galvanized steel sheeting; in situ concrete, board marked.
Internal walls
Hoop pine plywood, limewashed; Formply; cypress pine with clear sealer.
Southern Star Windows residential profiles in clear anodized aluminium.
Southern Star Windows commercial profiles in clear anodized aluminium; Centor S1E retractable flyscreen; Locker Group expanded-metal screen; galvanized steel sheeting.
Polished concrete with clear penetrating sealer; cypress pine with clear sealer.
Fluorescent lamps.
Formply benchtop, door panels and splashback; plywood cupboards, limewashed; Tradelink plumbing parts; Clark Monaco sink; Westinghouse rangehood and electric cooktop.
Caroma Concorde Sovereign toilet suite; Tradelink plumbing parts; Eco Outdoor basalt stone floor tiles with clear sealer; Laminex Visage vertical surfaces
Desk lamps, chairs and bedside table from Corporate Culture; Eco Outdoor seat cushions and seating pads.


Atelier Chen Hung (A-CH)
Brisbane, Qld, Australia
Project Team
Melody Chen, James Hung, Renee Popovic
Engineer Northrop Consulting Engineers
Joiner Jigsaw Joinery
Site details
Location Keperra,  Brisbane,  Qld,  Australia
Site area 600 m2
Building area 45 m2
Category Residential
Type New house, Residential
Project Details
Status Built
Design, documentation 4 months
Construction 6 months



Published online: 7 Nov 2013
Words: National Architecture Awards Jury 2013
Images: Alicia Taylor


Architecture Australia, November 2013

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