Convertible Courtyards House


  • Christopher Megowan Design
  • Jodans Building
  • Gamcorp Structural Engineers


The Convertible Courtyards House kinetically adapts to the notoriously variable climate found in Melbourne.
In response to the north-facing block of land, a central courtyard was created between the weatherboard and modern extension in order to flood the open kitchen, living and dining area with natural light. A carefully detailed glazed linkway runs along the central courtyard
and vertical battens cast a playful cadence of shadows across the floor and walls as one transitions between old and new. A second courtyard straddles the living room to the south and allows access to the rear garden.

Key Features


The conceptual strength of the house is found in the manually operated retractable roof which runs over 12 metres from north to south to cover both courtyards. A hand winch and a block and tackle, allow the slatted timber, steel and polycarbonate roof panel to help regulate sun and rain on the two outdoor spaces, a valuable feature given Melbourne’s fickle weather. This challenge required the designer to not only consider structure and aesthetics but also mechanical engineering.


In the rear garden, an elevated aqueduct sculpturally cascades rainwater from both the fixed and operable roofs to a slimline water tank that is connected to the sanitary flushing system. This solution takes something that is potentially mundane (stormwater) and turns it into a celebrated moment within the scheme.


Solar panels, gas boosted solar hot water, high levels of insulation, and sustainably harvested/regionally sourced spotted gum timbers round out the projects green credentials.


A custom spotted gum and plate steel planter box to the outside of the dining room window helps bring the outdoors in, keeping flowers and herbs at sill height and clear view and reach of the interior spaces. The designer was involved in the fabrication and installation of this piece.


Two sets of hardwood bifolding doors stradle the the living room and help successfully ensure the all-important connection between indoors and out.

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