After creating the branding for The Palaone, DSGNK got hired to design The Palaone workation retreat on the outskirts of Puerto Princesa. The bigger picture in our collaboration with the local developer is to create a birthplace for a new consumer driven design movement, inspiring a circular economy around renewable, local materials, which will help in preserving the unique nature and environment of the island and provide opportunities to the local people.

Situated on a 2,800sqm hill top property, The Palaone project will be developed in 3 stages and serve as an architectural “test ground” for future sustainable land and community developments on the island of Palawan and beyond. A series of cabins around a main house (set up as a micro grid) will form the workation retreat where skills, knowledge and resources are shared for the personal improvement of its residents, visitors and the local neighborhood. Nestled into the existing nature, each of the cabins constructed in the first development stage, is a contemporary version of the local bahay kubo (or nipa hut) and will have minimal impact to the land. The open and flexible design allows for various “placemaking” options for up to 7 people per cabin, so we leave it with the visitors to decide whether they like to live, work or relax while staying at The Palaone.

The project serves as a real time education facility throughout all building stages and as an authentic show case of regenerative development for people to experience firsthand. It is set out to become a Carbon Positive Development with multiple beneficial relationships between humans and nature that actively restore ecosystems and support the local community to thrive.


Up until 2019, this old industrial yard in the most Eastern part of Germany was used for storage purposes by a local civil construction company after they purchased it in the 1990’s. Our client, who recently bought the property, decided to develop the “l-shaped” dwelling on site into a sustainable and contemporary home for himself.

During his visit to Germany in 2019, Ronny met the client at his property, discussing potential design options while surveying the existing structure. Despite the age of the property and the fact that it had been empty for a long time, it appeared to be in solid shape offering some great potential for what the client envisioned.

Back in Brisbane and based on the meetings and discussions in Germany, we developed a design concept for the property and in collaboration with Mathias Hennig from IBH Niesky finalised the planning process for this barn renovation. Construction on the project started soon after and despite the struggles around the global COVID pandemic, the project is well on its way and will be completed in 2021.

Not only did the project provide DSGNK with very valuable learning outcomes regarding managing a project overseas and thinking post COVID, it created a strong bond with the client, proofing that the quality of relationships we create is crucially important, especially when managing projects remotely.

DSGNK is very excited to see the finished renovation both, in photos and in reality, once we are allowed to travel overseas again and to get involved into developing the other parts of the property in the future.


Concept design for a slope house in the Australian Alps with the goal to create an energy and cost-efficient home which appears modern, rustic and cosy at the same time. The client put great emphasis on utilizing nature in general and in particular the sun, whilst considering the different seasons on site and “framing” the stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

The layout of this concept design is defined by a central and open plan living / entertainment level with direct access from the outside. It is complimented by two more private areas – two bedrooms upstairs and a quiets area downstairs with direct connection to the outdoors, since it is intended to be used as the client’s studio and occasional guest unit.


Community Homes is to be an active demonstration of positive development and community engagement. The project aims to provide affordable housing for people from all walks of life, while at the same time offering a high quality of living, aesthetics and holistic sustainability. The project strives to activate the immense potential in the local community by providing homes, that help people to create their own identity. Furthermore, the development aims to motivate its future tenants to a healthier and more self-determined lifestyle and aims to set a more holistic standard for social housing.

In order to achieve the above, the existing 1002 sqm corner lot will be subdivided into two 501sqm lots. Each lot will feature a two-storey main dwelling with 4 bedrooms and an additional one storey auxiliary unit (secondary dwelling) with 1 bedroom. The existing one level dwelling will be kept and turned into one of the two-level main dwelling with integrated work hub. Each dwelling, main and auxiliary, will have roof decks to utilise surrounding views, harvest sun and water and provide additional space for on-site food production (urban farming). On completion of the development, the dwellings are first and foremost functional homes that support and enhance sustainable lifestyle. The outdoor areas (gardens, decks, bbq area etc) will become the hubs of that lifestyle and provide a connection between people and the natural habitat.

For more information, please contact us or visit the Community Homes website.


Winner People’s Choice Award / Professional Category

The 2017 sustainable design competition “Build it Local” challenged entrants to design a family home in a typical suburban context for the sub-tropics, using approved and/or non-approved. To reduce the embodied footprint of the build, materials had to be sourced from within a 50km radius in the Northern Rivers region of Australia. The theme furthermore required addressing sustainability, environmental and social issues and to think creatively in designing a sustainable home using local labour and materials providing a radial diagram to map the distances of where building materials were sourced.

DSGNK developed an affordable, modular “house in house” concept based on the idea of botanical living.  One major part of our concept is the site evolution based around an in ground set up of necessary infrastructure placed into the existing landscape. The water sensitive design of this infrastructure contains features like water tanks, planter boxes, permeable driveway and a grey water filter system including storage for fresh and potable water. To provide natural shade and guide prevailing winds on site, natural landscaping in form of trees and terrace gardening is added to the site. Once the infrastructure is provided, the modular dwelling, designed for deconstruction, can be placed on site and connected. Being able to unmount and flatpack the dwelling when needed, leaves behind an urban farm including necessary infrastructure providing productivity and flexibility for a new set up with different purpose.

The proposed house on site is made of two main parts – the module and the cover. The cover is structural in itself and adaptable in size, providing options from single studio set up to multi residential or commercial level. The structure combines old scaffolding parts with an exterior cladding of translucent polycarb panels and bamboo poles. This facade needs to be translucent to allow for internal landscaping, but materials can be adapted according to availability and location to optimise guiding natural light inside the “green house” wrapping. Wet areas like showers and toilets are integrated into the cover and connected to the in-ground infrastructure. The scaffolding naturally acts as a connector between levels and as a pergola for vertical landscaping and farming. It also provides a modular setting in itself allowing for features like daybeds or workstations to be integrated.

To complete the “house in house” design, the prefabricated timber frame modules slide into the cover on the lower level, providing flexible living and/or work spaces on the lower level as well as roof deck set ups on the upper level, placed under the external cover. The space between the two main parts is filled with landscape, both, productive and recreational and can be individually designed by the occupants, based on their needs. This productive set up not only creates a very unique feeling of living inside the outside, it also creates a healthy, ecological climate with a maximum amount of flexibility and a minimum footprint.


Initially approached to provide feedback on an existing design for their slopped plot of land in Buderim, we realised fairly fast that the intended sustainable approach the client had in mind, needed to be redone from scratch. After a few face to face meetings getting to know the clients and their requirements, we got engaged to provide an initial sketch design. Based on our discussions and considering the beautiful nature on site featuring native, mature trees and even including seasonal fresh water streams in the back of the land, we developed a new design based on the idea to change the existing slope of the land as minimal as possible and design a dwelling to integrate into the existing landscape using passive design strategies.

Given the height difference on site, we proposed a kind of “terrace” design made of three parts. A bedroom wing on the upper part of the land with access to the back forest of the site forms the first part. The second part is set as an open plan and high ceiling “connector”, containing different sets of staircases and plateaus on different heights to serve as living areas and media room. The main entrance for pedestrians also arrives at this connecting part. The third part, on the lowest level of the land, includes the kitchen with access to the inner courtyard and an outdoor kitchen / bbq area as well as the dining area and an entrance through the attached garage. The three parts form a “u-shape” creating an interior, private court yard with swimming pool and access to the lower parts of the house. The ensemble is completed by adding a drive through garage on the lowest part of the land to allow access to the back of the property when needed. The proposed “u-shape” not only allows for safety and privacy towards the entrance road, it also opens the house up towards the landscape of the side, providing access to the surrounding nature and natural light.

Being very happy with our initial concept idea and our individual service, the client engaged into a full scope contract including design development, documentation and project management. Initially designed to be made from precast concrete, to achieve the clean and contemporary look our client was after, the house has since been modified to timber frame, mainly due to budget and was completed in 2019 by a local building company.

Unfortunately a few of the intended sustainability features were cut due to budget, but despite these changes, we are glad that as initially targeted with the clients in early conversations, this new residential design still ensures minimal impact on the existing and sloping land while creating maximal experience of site and surrounding nature, mainly due to the internal layout and the overall positioning on site.


An open home that connects people with the land and the community and which provides a simple, yet aesthetic set up which works in balance with nature. A small-scale village where skills, knowledge and resources are shared for the personal improvement of its residents and the neighbourhood. An authentic example of affordable living where the people shape its own identity and which inspires to a healthier and more self-determined lifestyle.

The project is to raise, restump, renovate and extend an existing post-war Queenslander timber house and to create a habitable, flood proof space underneath. The project idea is to keep and maintain the original charm and character of the building while adding a more private extension for the family’s bedrooms into the back garden, integrating it into the existing nature on the block. On completion the house is to be first and foremost a functional family home that supports and enhances family life into the future.  The kitchen, living area and deck are to be the hub of family life and to provide a feeling of openness and connection. 

The new house is to be comfortable for occupants all year round without active air conditioning, which will not be allowed.  Comfortable conditions are to be maintained using good passive design techniques, harvesting breezes, natural humidity reduction techniques. Furthermore, this residential refurbishment / extension is aiming to not only provide a new home for the family to live in balance with nature, but also to show that a building can contribute back to its environment and community. The project is listed for Living Building Challenge certification and together with the owners, DSGNK is using the project to develop a new and more flexible way of project management with a strong focus on user experience.


The owners of this residence were looking for smart ideas and an overall efficient concept to update the existing house and landscape while increasing the value of the property at the same time. After a few meetings with the clients to get a better understanding of their lifestyle, future plans and individual needs we developed a design concept within a short period of time. We included some early cost calculations which helped the clients to get a better understanding of the scope of the project and to make a decision based on costs vs added value.

Collaborators: Mark Floate, Accustruct


After a devastating fire in 2014, DSGNK was involved in the redevelopment proposal in form of an EOI for the iconic ‘Waltzing Matilda Centre’ museum in Winton.

Together with Thomson Adsett and nZD we developed an architectural concept with strong focus on community and sustainability. The design idea centers a billabong in a sunken courtyard as a symbol for the birth of life. It proposes the use of thermal mass to provide natural cooling given the extreme weather conditions in this remote outback town. Furthermore the new centre in designed to tie in with the new energy strategy for Winton to run on 100% renewables.

Collaborators: Thomson Adsett, nZD


A redevelopment proposal for the centre of Nimbin after the devastating fire in August 2014. The Concept Plan was developed by Mark Floate (Floate Architecture) considering input gathered from community discussions and meetings with Lismore City Council.

Based on this, the project brief and concept master plan for the site was developed around the following main points:

Pedestrian Connections – maintain and enhance the important laneway connection between the street and the western car-park.

Shared Public Space – open up the rear of the site as accessible open space for markets, gatherings and events.

Active and Mixed Uses – create small retail, commercial and some residential spaces to promote safe and active interactions.

DSGNK assisted as part of the project team, providing visualisation services and general concept design ideas.

Project Team: Mark Floate, Guy Stewart, Ronny Matzat



Sustainable Small House Design Competition 2014

As part of the “Sustainable small house design competition 2014” our key principle for the project was to create and close the loop between the existing and the proposed new dwelling. Energy and waste are kept in a good balance throughout the entire site. The existing dwelling and new GRANNY FLAT shall share resources and different facilities (worm farm, veg and herb garden,etc.) on site feeding off each other to achieve the best possible efficiency as a whole.

The landscape in combination with the passive design principles of the new dwelling create and provide high living quality. At the same time the design and placement of the GRANNY FLAT provides just enough privacy for the tenants without being too isolated from the existing dwelling on site.

The landscape operates as a self-regulated system, adapts to the native environment and integrates the new dwelling into the site. It furthermore works as the bridge between the natural environment and the human habitat using native species and a “7 layer food forest”.