Sanctuary House by Ben Callery Architects

Sanctuary House by Ben Callery Architects

Project: Sanctuary House
Architects: Ben Callery Architects
Builder: Truewood Constructions
Landscape: Akas Landscape Architects
Location: Brunswick East, Victoria, Australia
Project size: 120 m2
Site size: 410 m2
Completion date 2021
Photo Credits: Reannon Smith

Sanctuary House integrates advanced construction techniques with natural materials and a wild landscape to provide an unexpected urban oasis in Brunswick East.

The house is built with SIPs (structural insulated panels) – a thermally sound and lightweight modular system. This contemporary method of construction enables building houses that are fast and resource-efficient to construct while being energy-efficient and naturally comfortable to occupy. In contrast to the slick metal cladding of the walls, timber-slatted screens are integrated into the façade to soften the house and make it a semi-transparent hideaway.

entry house

Openable timber shutters allow adjustable solar control while providing privacy. This liberates the house from the need for a front fence enabling the front garden to bestow abundant foliage on the botanically sparse neighbourhood, proposing a greener future. Slatted timber elements continue in the courtyard where a horizontal cantilevered awning integrates the building with the garden. The slats encourage deciduous vines to engulf the north-facing doors and windows and provide summer shade.

Sanctuary House by Ben Callery Architects

The U-shaped floorplan is designed around a central courtyard that directs winter sun into the living rooms over the double-storey neighbouring house. The courtyard also brings the beautiful natural landscape right up to the house including cooling plants and a pond. The rooms adjacent feel immersed in the garden’s wild serenity. Distant verdant views can be glimpsed across the whole site, expanding the sense of space in a compact 120m2 house on a small property.

entry hall

The heavily insulated SIPs walls and roof are complemented by double glazing and thermal mass in the concrete floor. Operable internal and external blinds complete the thermally stable external envelope. Technology includes an HRV (heat recovery ventilation) system that efficiently exchanges warmth into fresh air brought into the house, an important strategy in contemporary air-tight houses. It distributes warm fresh air between all rooms allowing the whole house to be heated and cooled by only two air conditioners. The house is all-electric, with no gas, and incorporates solar power and electric vehicle charging.


The Sanctuary house is designed to be wheelchair accessible, single-level living with generous hallways and doorways and a relatively large bathroom with open shower, looking forward to aging in place.

interior hall

The garden by Akas Landscape Architecture complements the house’s juxtaposition of the manufactured and the natural. A pond of river rocks and granite provides habitat for fish and frogs amongst a mixture of indigenous, native and exotic vegetation. Concrete sleepers provide paving and a bridge over the water before separating as they recede from the house and dispersing into nature.


bedroom, patio, hall


Sanctuary House by Ben Callery Architects

Sanctuary House by Ben Callery Architects

Sanctuary House by Ben Callery Architects

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