It is no wonder that this masterpiece home has been nominated in the Darling Downs Architecture awards.

The home by Elia Architecture possesses an engaging design which has been executed well when paired with the brief of creating a functional family home. The creation, on a small property outside Toowoomba uses a minimalist palette of natural materials, quality finishes and subtle colours to produce welcoming interior spaces. The natural heating and cooling has been achieved through the thoughtful placement of thermal mass and cross ventilation breezeways.

Toowoomba lawyer Leanne Mattheson, of Murdochs, and her husband Michael, a food processing engineer, and young children are lucky enough to call this home. An additional component of the building has been designed to include a courtyard which links to the existing modern kit home.

The pre-existing part of the house is now used as a study, guest accommodation and rumpus room with paths and pergolas creating a unified complex, rather than isolated buildings set apart on the site.

Architect Chris Gay says the new work complements the original, with materials used that reference the existing, such as matching steel cladding and similar colours and form. Brick and fibre cement sheeting have been used to give a feeling of permanency to the new.

The courtyard came to life as a protected, more intimate space with new trees planted on the north east corner reducing the impact of the incessant prevailing Summer winds. The pergola also supports a deciduous creeper, providing cooling shade in Summer and allowing warmth into the house in Winter.

As is the case with most homes, the living area is at the heart of the house, and is visually linked to the courtyard on one side and verandah, with distant views over farmland on the other. The higher space over the circulation gallery creates drama, whilst also allowing for high level lighting and ventilation. The brick cladding used on the main facades is replicated internally on columns supporting exposed trusses used in the living area. The openness of the main space to the external spaces contrasts with the two wings of the building which are more solid. These house bedrooms and service areas.


A small study area for the young girls is located at the end of the gallery and has the flexibility to be an open space or closed off as needed. The main bedroom, although located in the ‘bedroom wing’ is slightly separated from the children’s rooms. Space has cleverly been put aside for an additional bedroom in the future.

A particularly thoughtful feature is the deciduous trees that are positioned so that as they mature they will protect the bedroom windows. The house has been designed to make the most of a passive solar concept, with the courtyard facade filtering sun and heat in Winter onto the tiled concrete floor while excluding it in Summer.

It comes as no surprise that the clients are enjoying the feeling of space and the house in general. The design successfully supports their lifestyle, providing varied spaces that are usable as a family but also suitable for entertaining.

Words by Alexandra Jones Images by PD Photography