Small carbon-neutral house in Australia built with recycled materials

Benjamin Hosking
© Benjamin Hosking

Constructed as an "apartment-house" hybrid, this prototypical 753-square-foot house makes the most of a small lot.

From small and tiny houses to micro-apartments, our enthusiasm for smaller living spaces comes from the fact that they are cheaper to heat and maintain, and often prompt people to consciously downsize their possessions, permitting them to live happier, fuller lives with less 'stuff' shackling them down.

Near Perth, Australia, feminist architecture studio Whispering Smith created House A for its directors, Kate and Matt. It's an "apartment-house" hybrid that is tailored for small lots and uses recycled materials like whitewashed brick, timber, cabinetry and 65-percent-recycled-slag and concrete tilt-up panels, and is the first of three carbon-neutral residences that are being planned for this neighbourhood. Situated on a small lot that also has an existing 1950s house, House A measures 70 square meters (753 square feet) that's split up into three compact levels, including a garage that's been inserted underground, to maximize space.

Benjamin Hosking© Benjamin Hosking

Benjamin Hosking© Benjamin Hosking

Benjamin Hosking© Benjamin Hosking

The interior is pared down and monochromatic in palette, evoking a "wabi-sabi" approach that embraces imperfection, rather than hiding it. The spaces appear to flow into one another, meaning that there are a minimal number of walls and doors, while careful attention has been paid to ensure that there are plenty of visual and spatial connections from interior spaces to the outdoors, creating an impression of a larger house. At night, the pale contours of the house seem to blend in with the sky and landscape, in contrast to the other brick-and-tile houses.

Benjamin Hosking© Benjamin Hosking

Benjamin Hosking© Benjamin Hosking

Benjamin Hosking© Benjamin Hosking

Benjamin Hosking© Benjamin Hosking

Benjamin Hosking© Benjamin Hosking

The project envisions a new kind of smaller and more efficient home for a new generation, the architects say:

House A embodies our desire to build something relevant for our generation. A lot of younger people and downsizers don't have a lot of stuff or are having children much later and we are using our homes for all kinds of things, from starting businesses or hosting a long table dinner for 20. We wanted to build a prototype house that did all of these things, while being affordable, sustainable and made from really beautiful, long lasting materials, and we thought the best way was just to design and build it ourselves.

Benjamin Hosking© Benjamin Hosking

Benjamin Hosking© Benjamin Hosking

In addition to using recycled materials and carefully designing how the spaces interact with one another, the home also uses an underground rainwater-collecting tank, solar power and an indoor clothes-drying line. The home's garden serves as a place for native plant species to grow, attracting local bird species and offering a wonderful outdoor space for the occupants to use for much of the year. To find out more, visit Whispering Smith and Instagram.

Small carbon-neutral house in Australia built with recycled materials
Constructed as an "apartment-house" hybrid, this prototypical 753-square-foot house makes the most of a small lot.

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