As the housing crisis in Sydney continues to intensify, some are tapping into the real estate potential in the city’s backyards and alleys. In a bid to catalyze the development of ‘laneway studios,’ Surry Hills-based McGregor Westlake Architecture has offered a small and sustainable housing model that builds atop existing garage units. Conceived “to subvert the council norm,” this smart tiny home boasts space-saving features and a striking contemporary design.

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view down the alley

dining room and living space

McGregor Westlake Architecture’s Laneway Studio was developed partly to address the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) reactions to shoddy laneway homes born from poor design and inadequate planning guidelines. In contrast, the architecture firm’s prototype shows how good design can turn a tiny and uninspiring plot into a tiny house that not only feels spacious, but also enjoys access to natural light and privacy. The windows on the east and west allow for natural ventilation, while exterior blinds mitigate solar heat gain — no air conditioning needed.

closed sliding doors

sliding doors open

The key to the design is the addition of a standing seam metal mansard roof punctuated by dormer windows. The interior, which measures a mere 269 square feet, is lined with honey-colored Australian Hoop Pine sourced from managed forests paired with a linoleum floor made largely of linseed oil. The tiny home comfortably accommodates two in an efficient layout that stacks the living spaces above the existing garage. An open living area, kitchen and dining space dominate the upper floor plan, and the bedroom and bathroom are tucked behind sliding wood-paneled doors. LED lighting is used throughout the tiny house. The homeowners also enjoy access to a rear courtyard.


timber stairway

Related: Efficient SIP Laneway House Pops Up in an Unused Urban Backyard in Vancouver

“The project is like a case study for a Laneway Studio or Garage-Top dwelling,” the architects said. “As the need for density and intensity of use grow, the 25sqm footprint is an important sustainable model for the fine-grained pedestrian city. In doubling the height of existing frontages and adding another layer of use along it’s length, this building type has the potential to positively transform lanes toward the qualities of our best streets: active, connected and urbane places.”

+ McGregor Westlake Architecture

Images by Brett Boardman