From the outset the client’s conviction with this project was that good architecture doesn’t need to be expensive. An alignment of agendas totally appealed to Architect Matt Elkan, considering it a total “privilege to work together with the same idea”.

Located on the NSW South Coast the holiday home is structurally built around 4 containers. To create a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing home, design and insulation consideration was paramount in the coming together of the modules. Elkan’s final design flipped the trustworthy internal method of insulation on its head by relocating the insulation to the exterior of the house.

“It proved a total win,” says Elkan. The house from certain angles is unrecognisable in its construction method. Corrugated steel cladding surrounds the home, concealing the containers and thermal bridging insulation. Technical aspects of waterproofing were also dealt with externally and efficiently, and resulting untouched internal walls created more room when space was already a compromise.

The bringing together of many hard surfaces meant acoustics were going to be tested and this was a slight unknown until the build completion. A much better than expected end result puzzled both architect and client. After mulling it over Elkan put it down to the internal facets in the container corrugations refracting the sounds in different directions rather than sending the waves bouncing straight back.

For Elkan working on a project that aims at the wider market and more mainstream budget, not only being categorised by designing to those clients in a larger spend bracket, was also appealing. A ‘top notch builder’ was a crucial addition to the client and architect team. With regular site meetings, and all three always thinking on the same page, decision-making was conclusive and decisive. Elkan also believes in the philosophy “to have a good idea, is a good idea, no matter who had it”. He knows this gets the best out of people and allows individual idea ownership.

Elkan expresses that cheaper homes sometimes get compromised in their finishes. A thoughtful design decision saw the implementation of recycled wood windows and door joinery adding quality, detail and an organic element to the finished project. Internally ceilings, floors and juncture walls were lined with plywood, adding warmth and texture. The floors were given a high-grade sealant for longevity, and will expect to age with time. Copper tap ware and piping installed by the plumber was used throughout the kitchen and bathroom and utilised for clothes hanging in wardrobe-less bedrooms.

The covered deck overhang is lined with fibre cement sheeting meeting all local fire requirements, and completed with hardwood spotted gum batons. The step-down spotted gum deck creates a wonderful outdoor extension and additional bonus ceiling height.

This home really is a hallmark and test to the theory that good architecture doesn’t need to be expensive. Design that is aesthetically appealing, well designed and functional can all be achieved without huge compromise as shown only too well by Matt Elkan in this unique container house.