Abbotsford House: Passive House


Located in Sydney’s inner west, the Abbotsford passive house balances both pragmatic and poetic requirements set out by the client’s brief. As a starting point the clients provided a German poem that described a house as a place for the collection of memories:

Enjoy every moment of your wonderful life
For through these little pearls of joy
Grows an ocean of beautiful memories

On the other hand, there was the requirement to build a new home approved and fast tracked through a complying development process, while pushing Australian sustainable design standards in every way to achieve the goals of a passive house.


The complying development process required adherence to very specific regulations. However,our in-depth knowledge of the regulations together with clever design and space solutions provided the best amenity within the constraints and achieved the requirements of the brief without compromises.

Technologically, the chasm between passive house standards and available technology proved a major issue, with the client’s initial expectations seemingly unachievable. However, creative customised design solutions bridged the gap and achieved the required environmental performance.


This house successfully combines sustainable design principles and technologies, resulting in a home that is easy and effortless to use. Furthermore, the design solutions include fine details, sustainable materials, custom furniture, texture and colour. The house invites its occupants to touch and feel, to inhabit in both intimate and communal ways, to pause and perch, to connect to ground, water and sky. The passive house generates its own electricity via solar panels and provides captured rainwater for reuse, therefore reducing both carbon footprint and running costs. Environmentally designed capturing sun in winter and cooling breezes in summer with protected outdoor spaces year-round, it is a house for all seasons.

For the owners the house is both about family and familiarity, noting that ‘from the day we moved in, it felt like we have always lived here.’