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.




“Brick Replacement Service” was a delightful hand powered installation built for Dezeen Space in September 2011, for individually building ‘Reseeding Bricks’.


A Reseeding Brick is comprised of a soil and clay mix housing a multitude of seeds.


It was envisaged as a replacement brick that encourages natural plant life and growth within the city.



A beautiful, small intervention that promotes natural growth within the city, while also strengthening the city dweller’s connection between both their natural and urban environment.


Taking ownership of one’s locality promotes community, connection and pride.


Source: http://jailmake.com/jail-studio/brick-replacement-service-reseeding-bricks/

Assemble_Design & Architecture Collective

I recently came across the work of Assemble, whose core practice ethos has a highly inspiring and commendable belief in “the importance of addressing the typical disconnection between the public and the process by which spaces are made”.

Assemble are a design and architecture collective based in London who actively involve the public in their projects “as both participant and accomplice”.

Lets explore a few of their projects that I particularly connected with:

Sugarhouse Studios


This is a great example where architects and designers conceive a potential project from a set of unmet demands. An opportunity for architectural intervention. It seems Assemble had a vision for a methodology of work:  “The project seeks to find a way for private practice (space for research, design and construction) to be opened up to form the backdrop for a public building.”


– Rather than a typical client-architect brief, Assemble have seen an opportunity to build local community through architecture.


The building has played host to a variety of uses including a cafe, cinema, construction workshops, exhibitions and late night events. It continues to be the workshop and workspace of Assemble and their collaborators.



The Cineroleum 

Cineroleum_Zander-Olsen_0011 Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Here, Assemble self-initiated a project, transforming a derelict petrol station into a hand-built cinema.

cineroleum 6

cineroleum 5

They saw potential in what could otherwise have remained an abandoned structure, ready for demolition. – The potential for adaptive reuse, to build a community through its realisation, and to continue to support and nurture that community through its continued use.



Assemble’s other projects include:

Folly for a Flyover – the transformation of a disused motorway undercroft “non-place” into a new public place.


Blackhorse Workshop – a public workshop that provides access to tools and affordable workspace


“The Playing Field” – a new typology theatre space


Assemble have demonstrated the potential for adaptive reuse – key to sustainable architecture.

How can architects encourage design for future adaptation, flexibility and change of use? How can they incorporate this ethos into their design process? And how can local community involvement benefit public architecture? -Assemble have certainly shown an admirable approach to these challenges.

All photos and information come from their informative website. – I highly recommend a visit: http://assemblestudio.co.uk/

Cycle Storage

It’s been great to see push bikes having a growing presence on the road in Sydney recently.


As a rider myself, regularly tenanting tiny houses comes with the constant struggle: where to store your bike!


If you live in a small house or apartment and regularly use your bike, you may have experienced this common problem.. so how do you store your wheels?


There are some great, playful and innovative solutions on the internet so I thought I’d show a few.


I love how the bike becomes another household object in this storage shelf by Post Fossil, the bike just seated amongst the books and shoes. Post Fossil are a great collective of designers whose holistic approach considers not just sustainable material use but the influence of social behaviour patterns too. Check out their website here.



Bikes as beautiful, sculptural objects such as the following example by Cycle Love..


These are mainly indoor solutions, I’d love to see more creative ideas for external, safe, weatherproof storage ideas.

CAN anyone suggest any?

Happy Riding