Eco-House Leura

This bushfire resilient house in Leura incorporates sustainable architecture principles in a bushfire zone and the sensitive ecology of the Blue Mountains. The building is placed to maximise protection from prevailing winds and to create defensible spaces during a bushfire event.

As architects and owners, we took an innovative approach that included partial pre-fabrication, use of passive and active bushfire resilience techniques, and successful negotiation of the planning controls with Council to minimise environmental impact.

, , | 160m2
Dharug & Gundungurra, Leura, NSW
Private Client | Completed 2020
Energy rating 8 stars | BAL 29

bushfire-proof house at night

“The house performs on so many levels – it’s warm and cozy in winter; cool and breezy in summer; bright on a cloudy day; high and dry during the big storms. It accommodates 2 or 20 people at ease. It’s small, easy to care for and cheap to run, but also expansive and every room is connected to nature, it is very open but also private. Best of all, it is beautiful and calming.”

– Carol Marra and Ken Yeh


Designing and building a new bushfire resilient house within the World Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains Area required careful consideration of several complex issues and constraints.

This project examines the site, brief and context through three distinct lenses:

  • Design with Country
  • Design for Climate (bushfire and heat resiliency)
  • Environmental performance

We developed innovative and unusual design solutions highly specific to this unique location, yet representative of the care and attention to detail we apply to all of our projects.


Design with Country:

  • Innovative foundation system installed in a single day, minimising soil disturbance and reducing the home’s overall impact on the site;
  • We regenerated the hanging swamp ecology improving water percolation and retention across the site, and providing habitat for local fauna including resident wallabies;
  • The garden includes several threatened species of local plants.

Design with Climate – bushfire and heat:

  • Located the building in a staggered position in relation to neighbouring houses, ensuring privacy and reducing the risk of house-to-house spread of fire
  • Redundant layers of fire defence, for instance by both lining and enclosing the sub-floor
  • Material selection and construction techniques reduce bushfire risk and a sprinkler system aids fire prevention.
  • The roof sprinklers double as a cooling system during summer heatwaves, addressing two climate change events, both of which are becoming more frequent and severe
  • Dedicated rainwater tanks which serve as a Static Water Supply for bushfire fighting
  • Simple roof form to deflect prevailing winds and to re-capture water for continuous use of the sprinklers
  • Simple building form constructed using durable, non-combustible materials

Environmental Performance:

  • Solar passive design achieves passive cooling and heating, without reliance on active systems
  • Solar system generates all of the electricity used onsite
  • Materials include extensive use of timber and metal, all locally sourced, embedding the house into its context and environment
  • Prefabricated and modular components selectively used to speed up the build, minimise waste during construction, and reduce build costs.


This bushfire resilient house was designed to minimise risk during a bushfire through a range of strategic considerations. These include its careful siting and staggered position in relation to neighbouring homes; the building’s form that deflects winds; the selection of appropriate materials, choice of construction methods and detailing; and the surrounding native landscaping.

It also boasts a remote-controlled roof sprinkler system, ensuring a reasonable level of ‘self-defence’ even when there are no people present.

Together these passive and active systems enable the residents – us – to leave during a fire, minimising unnecessary risk to protect the property.

And although bushfire risk was a key driver of the design response, the house is experienced as a comfortable and inviting home opening up to the elements and surroundings, making the most of its mountains setting.

The primary living spaces incorporate eco design principles maximising sun penetration in winter, resulting in interior spaces that are 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the outdoor temperature in the coldest months of the year.

Shaded in summer, a comfortable interior temperature of 22 to 24°C is achieved.

The interiors offer spatial flexibility and adaptability. Several rooms are multifunctional and can be configured as working, lounging or sleeping areas, through the inclusion of movable wall elements.

The house is highly attuned to both the changing environment and our own needs. We can easily facilitate seasonal living with minimal energy use, opening up larger airy spaces in summer, or creating smaller cosy spaces in winter.

Both affordable to build and to live in, the eco house provides maximum impact in space and amenity yet minimises its footprint, energy and resource consumption.

Neighbours and visitors remark how well the house fits into the environment, proof that the eco house fulfils both its technical and aesthetic ambitions – providing comfort and delight in harmony with nature.


Blue Mountains Planetary Health Initiative



Oscar Prieckaerts | Joinery

Brett Boardman | Photography