Hover House


  • Bower Architecture, Architecture & Interior Design
  • Ellcon Building Contractors, Builder
  • Shannon McGrath, Photography
  • Beattie Consulting Engineers, Structural Engineer


Hover House re-imagines the single dwelling courtyard house, and explores the subsequent architectural opportunities on an Australian battle axe block without street frontage.

To solve the challenges and harness the opportunities of the site, an internal focus was created with a design that extrudes a simple sectional gable shape through the length of the house. The form maximises natural light, emphasises views to distant tree canopies, efficiently collects rainwater and establishes dynamic interior volumes.

Defined by its simplicity and linkages between key spaces to the compelling courtyard, Hover House is innovative and modest, in the setting of a challenging context.

Key Features



The battle-axe-block is the rear parcel of land of a subdivided block increasingly common in popular areas of Victoria as land values and demand for land rise. The lack of outlook is reconciled by a design that focuses inwards creating an outlook towards a tranquil courtyard.
Hover House is a re-interpretation of the courtyard house typology differing and defined by its extruded gable roof form, warmth of materials and linkages and outlook from key spaces to the courtyard.

This re-imagined typology is suitable for other sites where a hostile outlook invites the creation of a meaningful inward focus.


Extruded Gable Form

To overcome the challenges of site and outlook, a simple sectional gable shape was extruded through the east-west axis of the house. The resulting form when combined with the courtyard maximises natural light and privacy, efficiently collects rainwater, incorporates sustainable passive systems whilst emphasises views to distant gum tree canopies and concealing neighbouring houses.

Internally, dynamic interior volumes are linked by the consistent gable shape through the building section, from intimate bedrooms to higher living spaces which reach towards northern sun. The simplicity, restraint and singularity of the gable form addresses spatial challenges in as few formal moves as possible.


Benefits to Inhabitants

The design provides the clients, friends and family with a warm, private and functional home all year round, adaptable to varying internal and external circumstances.

Privacy and environmental control can be altered through timber screens and sliding doors as required for changing seasons, weather, sunlight and visitors/guests.

Minimal thresholds between the interior and the terrace allow the courtyard to feel like an extension of the living space, blurring the lines between indoor/outdoor living.

The wrapping of the house around the central courtyard maintains constant privacy and tranquillity for the occupants, even in the suburban, built up area.



The project benefited from a committed collaboration between client, architect and builder. The clients were passionate about design and the architectural process. The builder, able to see the broader vision in conjunction with the importance of the fine details, was invaluable in the realisation of design intent and the delivery of a successful project.

The landscaping of the courtyard was undertaken by the client and their son. It is a key element of the architectural outcome: subtle hills, boulder and Japanese maple break down the formality of the house, serving as an adaptable, functional space enjoyed by all.


Excellence and Innovation in Sustainability

The gable form maximises natural light to the courtyard whilst providing internal sun shading and efficient rainwater collection. It also simplified construction reducing building costs and carbon emissions.

The two bedroom wings are zoned via concealed sliding doors and timber screens, enabling each to be open or closed independently, aiding in sun shading, energy efficiency and privacy.

In the living spaces, reverse veneer blockwork, an insulated polished concrete slab and a concrete fireplace provide effective thermal mass whilst introducing cost effective texture and warmth. Careful window placement provides passive cross ventilation.

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