Porous House

  • 2021

  • Architectural
    Architectual Design

Designed By:

  • Possible Studio
  • John de Manincor
  • Sandra Kaji-O'Grady

Commissioned By:

Coopers Creek Collective Protectorate

Designed In:


Porous House is located on Widjabul Country in the Bundjalung Nation (Byron Bay Hinterland, NSW). The project supports a social experiment between two unrelated, multi-generational families (including the architects) working together on the rehabilitation of an adjacent patch of remnant rainforest. The design facilitates interaction and privacy in an environmentally responsive form.

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Image: Anna Hutchcroft
Image: Anna Hutchcroft
Image: Anna Hutchcroft
Image: Anna Hutchcroft
Image: Anna Hutchcroft
Image: Anna Hutchcroft
Image: Anna Hutchcroft
Image: Anna Hutchcroft
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  • The 2.5 ha site is complex, much is an environmental protection zone which the clients aimed to preserve. Bushfire clearances and setback controls limited the land available for construction. Weather patterns in the region are extreme, 2,200mm annual thus high humidity and temperatures ranging from zero overnight in winter to high-thirties in summer. The families that occupy the house are similar and diverse - they were not well acquainted prior to the project. All are passionate about the environment and social justice but vary in other ways. Designing an economic, environmentally responsive, robust, flexible and convivial space was the key challenge.

  • The building supports active / creative living, it is highly tuned to its context in sympathetic and surprising ways. Perforated screens in the shed-like façade open to reveal three volumes separated by lush courtyards. A dynamic breezeway connects bedrooms and living spaces that draw on memories of motels, cabins, and caravans. A playful 'tower' within the living space fosters zones for diverse use. An eat-in kitchen recalls the camaraderie of school camps. Joinery, furniture and soft furnishings have been designed and made by the client team, achieving a rich personal interior palette in contrast with the façade and landscape beyond.

  • The key impact of this house is the exemplar manner in which it delivers a sustainable, economical and flexible house for the occupants. The inherent flexibility ensures that in can adapt to the demands of future users with minimal change to the infrastructure. This concept could be adapted and adopted in other locations to provide flexible housing options for co-living.

  • This house represents excellent value in the realm of architect designed houses in the region, it shuns the default concept of "architecture as resort" or "architecture and nature" common to the region. Built for less than half the square metre rate of recent, celebrated, high-end houses in the area it demonstrates that careful design can produce delightful spaces that do not default to "design as shopping". The project is imperfect in its execution, yet completely functional. It suggests that the strength of architecture lies in the mind-craft of the designer rather than the fetishized hand-craft of the "tradie" (within reason of course). The fabric of the building is the conduit to a larger issue, one that weaves the lives of two families close together. Similar yarns have been spun since the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. With the hippie came the humpy - the Porous House takes a more sophisticated, long-term view of co-living. It is designed to allow its weft and weave to stretch to accommodate growing and emerging definitions of family in multiple configurations. Designed for long-life, loose-fit, high-performance and joy.