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:

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” 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…

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…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). “

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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

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The following images come from Tiny House Blog.

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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.

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

Small things CAN make a big difference 🙂

Zig Zag Cabin

Drew Heath Architect, 2003

This wonderful little abode is such an inspiration for high density/compact living. Tighter constraints, be they budget, size, time, can often be exciting, inspirational starting points for design.

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Located in Wollombi, 2.5hrs North of Sydney, the Zig Zag Cabin is more akin to an oversized piece of joinery. The house sleeps three people, two at ground level and one at a mezzanine, reached by a ladder.

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Much thought has been given to the windows, which provide framed views of the natural environment surrounds. In such a small project, the detailing of the materials and junctions becomes important, as does the three dimensional use of space.

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It is nice to feel enclosed, sheltered, with the opportunity to step outside and engross oneself in the natural elements.

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Sometimes I feel that the integrity of a design can dissolve as the floor space or budget of a project grow.  A tightly configured puzzle suddenly gains volume and the project changes character.

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The success of this project is the strength of the concept, and the purity with which it has been executed.  Rumour has it that the design was conceived in a sketch on a beer coaster, and aside from being a good story, perhaps it is representative of the direct translation of idea to building.

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If you’re lucky enough to acquire some bush land, surely the most delightful architectural solution is to step back humbly and thrust you into the wilderness?

Don’t seduce the occupant inside; encourage them to embrace their surrounds.

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And I think this project does just that.  Rather than a territorial statement, narcissistically perched at the top of a hill like a discoverer’s flag, it is instead nestled half way down the hill, surrounded by a small timber deck, then natural bush.

A beautiful architecture, one that withstands trends and fashion, has adaptive usability.. Perhaps fundamentally, sustainable construction is one that will remain for a long time, continuing to enchant us?

See Drew Heath’s website: http://www.drewheath.com

Information and image source, ‘Zig Zag Cabin’, Architecture Australia by Brett Boardman: http://architectureau.com/articles/zig-zag-cabin/