Dream Big: Think Small

When constructing alterations, additions, or brand new dwellings how does one quantify value for money? -Obviously more square metres for less money right? But what if it were more qualitative than that..

There have been a few great articles recently which we hope reflects a changing approach to architecture and housing in Australia.

See below excerpt from an article on ArchitectureAU:


” A City of Fremantle councillor has put forward an amendment to the Western Australian planning scheme that could see more “tiny houses” built in the city…


…The amendment proposes to allow for the subdivision of larger residential blocks to create smaller independently owned houses. It proposes a maximum size of 120 square metres for each dwelling (by way of comparison, this is well above the minimum of 90 square metres for a three-bedroom apartment under New South Wales’ new Apartment Design Guide). “


We hope it will encourage adaptation and reuse of existing buildings, in contrast with the wasteful knock-down-re-build approach. See here for more information and the original article by Linda Cheng at ArchitectureAU.

CAN we challenge mainstream thought and encourage clients to invest in smaller, but better quality spaces?

Australian Design Review published an interesting article recently on the growing interest in Tiny Houses. Author Emily Taliangis describes the trend forming from a variety of reasons: environmental, financial and ease of construction.

” …In compensation for their limited size, tiny houses place great emphasis on design, often utilising dual purpose features and multi-functional furniture. Vertical space optimisation is a common strategy – think beds over the kitchen, and storage at the roof. Tiny houses have all the amenities of regular sized homes, though clever planning and design is essential…”

However she continues to write that:

” …While the tiny house movement is gaining momentum, it realistically has a ways to go before it will influence living models in the mainstream. A recent article by the ABC reports that newly built Australian houses are “bigger on average than anywhere else in the world at 245 square metres for new freestanding homes, and 215 square metres for new homes overall,” demonstrating an increase in housing sizes of roughly 10 percent in the last decade… “

Read the article here.

The following image is from an article titled “Huge houses an irresponsible drain on the environment” by Dr Robert Crawford on smh.com.au


The following images come from Tiny House Blog.

ESCAPE-Traveler-TinyHouse5-750x500 ESCAPE-Traveler-TinyHouse6-750x500 ESCAPE-Traveler-TinyHouse9-750x494

escape traveller

So here at CANstudio we have decided to explore the idea of tiny houses and small living. Feel free to flashback to a previous article: Zig Zag Cabin and continue to follow our small exploration over the following month.



Zig Zag Cabin by Architect/Builder Drew Heath, photo taken by Brett Boardman

Small things CAN make a big difference 🙂

The (re)Generation Project

Guest post by Jane Crowley, manager and researcher of The (re)Generation Project, a program run by Macquarie University

I believe that all humans have an innate and instinctive affiliation to other living systems, that being connected to nature is in our biology, it’s just being able to retrieve these in the fast paced urbanised world that we live in, that’s the challenge.


Pictured: Jane Crowley Photo Credit – Josh White

When I think back to some of my favourite childhood memories, they generally involve long days at the beach, roaming the local park for the biggest tree to climb, finding the secret cave in the bush to play in, or following a creek in search for tadpoles.

For me, these early personal connections with the natural world have been powerful and I know they have helped me heal and learn, but also they have helped me form ties with the earth that we depend on.


Photo Credit – Ben Hardy-Clements

But things are changing and most kids don’t have the same exposure to nature that I did…

So, how do we inspire a new generation back to the bush?


Crowley Family Photo

I’m running a project called The (re)Generation Project through Macquarie University that is exploring the power of storytelling from young people to inspire a new generation into nature.


Photo Credit – Josh White

We’re all storytellers, it’s how we communicate with each other, it’s how we educate each other, it’s how entertain each other and it’s often how we can instil moral values in each other. As a storyteller, you are providing the viewer with the material for them to form their own connection rather than telling them what to do.

IMAGE CREDIT Andrew Pavlidis

Photo Credit – Andrew Pavlidis

So for the past five weeks with the support from Digital Storytellers, we’ve been helping about 20 14-27 years olds craft their stories into short films, which we plan on sharing with the world in hope to reignite some of that love for nature that perhaps many have lost.

CREDIT Kurt Davies

Photo Credit – Kurt Davies

We have such an interesting, creative, passionate group of young people involved, with a very diverse range of stories. A shark girl in Bellingen, a young Indigenous man’s story of healing, a fictional piece that personifies nature’s different personalities, and the respite in a roof top garden in Bangladesh, and more… Most who have never made a film in their life, but I’ve learnt along the way that it doesn’t need to be well polished high production to have impact.

As long as the story is honest and real, it has the power to shift perceptions, open minds and maybe even influence behaviour.

It does seem nonsensical that we have lost touch with where our existence stems from, and that looking after the earth like we do for our friends and family, should really be a way of life, rather than boxed into some kind of stereotyped radical. Perhaps stories are a way to break down these stereotypes of looking after the environment, and to just share some of the wonder and magic of our natural world to get people connected again.

CREDIT Sam Brumby

Photo Credit – Sam Brumby

Do you need a bit of nature love? The films will be shared at a free public screening on 30 October. Join us at Riverside Theatres Parramatta. The event is free but seats are limited so book here. Watch the films, hear the stories, meet the filmmakers and learn about what we’re doing to reconnect young people with the natural world.

CREDIT Zara Hawkes

Photo Credit – Zara Hawkes

For more information use the following links:

Website // Facebook // Email: theregenerationprojectmq@gmail.com

>> Thank you to Jane Crowley for collaborating with us here at CANstudio. We canNOT wait to watch the films and connect with the great work that you do.

Timber Post

The tallest timber apartment building in the world located in Melbourne, Australia. Lend Lease have designed and built Forte, a 10-storey apartment building using Cross Laminated Timber.


[Figure 1]

So why a timber building?

Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a prefabricated timber product in which layers of timber are laminated in ‘criss-cross’ directions into solid panels. Structurally, these panels perform comparably to engineered solutions such as steel and reinforced concrete, but while steel and concrete are carbon intensive to manufacture, timber actually stores carbon.


[Figure 2]

The lightweight timber structure has reduced foundation requirements than traditional reinforced concrete buildings (less materials, less digging) and is manufactured in a controlled factory environment providing for high quality control and opportunities for prefabrication and faster on-site assembly.


[Figure 3]

See http://www.crosslaminatedtimber.com.au/ for more details

Sustainability & the building:

Forte houses 23 residential apartments as well as ground floor retail.


[Figure 4]

Each apartment has been designed to optimise passive solar gain and natural ventilation, a healthier and sustainable solution that relies less on mechanical heating and cooling. Chemical emissions from paints, carpets, joinery and wood products were also reduced.


[Figure 5]

We love the addition of vegetable gardens on the balconies and the nearby Victoria Harbour community garden. Not only do these reduce the embodied energy required to transport our food from its source to our plate, but they build and nurture local community spirit.


Visit the building’s website for more details on sustainable initiatives:



Figure 1: http://sourceable.net/forte-worlds-tallest-timber-apartment-building/
Figure 2: http://designbuildsource.com.au/cross-laminated-timber-passes-fire-tests
Figure 3: http://www.crosslaminatedtimber.com.au/
Figure 4-6: http://sourceable.net/forte-worlds-tallest-timber-apartment-building/



The Ethics of Almost II

…Further thoughts on previous reblog post, “The Ethics of Almost”


How can these ideas of ethical consumption translate to architecture and the construction industry?


When designing or renovating your own home (or building), consider the implications of importing ‘green’ products when you could be supporting local trades and businesses.

dezeen_Crofthouse-by-James-Stockwell_4 (1)

It’s worthwhile researching where materials and products are sourced.


There is always a balance to be found in the cost/time/quality triangle, so be aware that sustainability starts small and local:

  • Money back into the community
  • Low embodied energy
  • Products direct from the source = no middle man = cheaper (& money to the right people!)


The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects has some great notes on this:

  • Ask suppliers where materials are sourced from
  • Buy plantation timber (preferably from Australia or your country)
  • Research the embodied energy contained in your products
  • Consider how you can reduce waste by recycling bi-products from the construction process such as formwork or sand

See the website for more information: http://www.aila.org.au/canberragarden/materials/


C is for Collaboration!


Images are of Crofthouse by James Stockwell Architect, located on the South Coast of Victoria, Australia.

Sustainable attributes:

  • Local Victorian Ash Timber for the interior cladding
  • Locally sourced Bluestone for the wet areas
  • Local craftsmanship
  • Passive solar design, thermal mass and double glazing minimise running costs
  • Robust exterior cladding increases durability, therefore reducing need for replacing vulnerable surfaces and materials


Floor Plan

Images and floor plan are from Dezeen and feature Crofthouse by James Stockwell Architect.


See James Stockwell website for more details: