Australia builds the world’s biggest houses—a fact that isn’t good for an Australian homeowner’s energy footprint or wallet. Austin Maynard Architects—formerly known as Andrew Maynard Architects—is bucking that unsustainable trend with THAT House, a modest-sized home made deliberately smaller than its neighbors with “just the right amount of space.” To make up for its smaller footprint, the eco-friendly Melbourne home embraces the outdoors with large windows and incorporates other smart design elements to ensure livability isn’t compromised.
Built with almost half the floor area of its neighbors, the 255-square-meter THAT House makes a defiant stand against growing suburban sprawl. Its larger neighbors—Australia’s newly built homes are 7 percent bigger than in the US—not only have higher heating and cooling demands, but also perpetuate a car-dependent environment. “THAT house is a conscious effort to build a home that is almost half the floor area of its neighbours, yet without compromise of spatial types, functions and quality,” wrote Austin Maynard Architects. “The anxiety of not having enough, or leaving something out that you may need later, is a real fear. However with good design and planning, modest size homes are not compromising.”
THAT House comprises two levels and appears, from the outside, like a series of stacked rectangular volumes clad in wood. The ground floor, which houses the communal area, eschews the noisy open-plan layout in favor of dividing the programmatic functions into separate rooms connected by a central foyer. The first floor contains the master bedroom and two smaller bedrooms. Large windows open the home up to the outdoor garden and are installed with upwards blinds that give the owners control over privacy levels, while still allowing for views and natural light.
Passive solar gain is optimized in all of the home’s north-facing windows, which are also all double-glazed to minimize energy loss. The western facade is void of glazing, while the eastern facades have limited openings. The passively ventilated THAT House is topped with white roofs and solar panels to minimize urban heat sink and is bolstered by high performance insulation. All roof water is captured, diverted to a large underground water tank, and reused to flush toilets and as irrigation. The home is also built with locally sourced materials wherever possible.
Images via Austin Maynard Architects, © Tess Kelly