This project was about building a small home on a small site, a home that would allow a young family to live large, and feel spaciousness within 4.5m wide walls. It was designed to be a home that encouraged the owners to spend time together rather than apart, adapt quickly and easily to large and small gatherings of friends and family, be really easy to maintain, and, understand, welcome and celebrate the different seasons.

Date Complete

– July 2016

Located in Carrington, in the heart of the Port of Newcastle, the house sits on 168sqm of land, formerly the site of a single garage for the house next door. In this laneway street, the houses straddle the border of the industrial port land, and from the upper floor you can watch the trains and ships as they move about the harbour.

Within this industrial landscape, the house is clad in metal and timber in reference to its utilitarian roots. It is minimal and simple in planning and materials to ensure a building that the owners could reasonably afford – 4 external walls enclose 97sqm of space in a pavilion that is 2 storeys at the street, and single storey to the rear courtyard. To expand the available area, large 4m wide sliding doors on both sides of the house are on external tracks and slide over the walls to disappear, and utilise the entire 6.7m width as the living space. Steel structure is left exposed, hinged aluminium and ply shutters on gas struts replace window panes in key locations, and services internally are clustered together for efficiency. The raked ceiling level gives height and space to the living zone, and the walls above are clad in dual layers of polycarbonate to emit a soft lighting through the day, and ensure both light and privacy when the older houses either side are redeveloped.

The house is raised 900mm for flooding, which allowed the concrete slab to incorporate 5000L waffle pod rainwater tanks, used for flushing toilets, washing machine and landscaping. The building has high levels of thermal insulation, all LED lighting, and passive solar design where the concrete slab has good winter sun exposure to utilise its thermal mass. Strategically placed windows capture passive ventilation and cross breezes, and reversible ceiling fans are used on the upper floor to circulate air.

The budget was important to achieve a successful project, and to ensure this was met, design flexibility was maintained throughout the construction process, in close dialogue between builder and architect/owner. The result was that the project intent was delivered on budget exceeding the clients expectations.

A modest, efficient and affordable house, the building creates an airy and light filled home within a tiny footprint, reflecting the owners aspirations. It is low in energy consumption, low in maintenance, and sits comfortable within its working industrial suburb.