It's easy to get carried away when building or renovating and include all of the space you possibly can, just in case. But, if you take time to consider what you actually need rather than what you might need, you can scale things back and create a compact, yet spacious home by investing the savings on a design that will impact your life every day (rather than an extra bedroom you use a couple of times a year and/or as a dumping ground for all the things you can't deal with right now). POD (People Oriented Design) has developed a philosophy called Least House Necessary which they demonstrate in this environmentally-considerate home in the lower flanks of the McAlister Range, north of Cairns...
"The site faces east and is very long, steep and narrow. It is a difficult solar orientation for Cairns", explains POD. The design focusses on outdoor spaces, so while the internal area is a compact 98 square metres, this is more than made up for by a generous outdoor living area and pool.
A narrow floor plan, with verandahs front and back, is perfect for Cairns' hot and humid climate, providing plenty of shade and allowing the home to catch breezes and open effortlessly to the outdoors, minimising the need for air-conditioning.
Indoors and outdoors bleed into one another, with large sliding glass doors opening to dissolve walls. Views are also capitalised, taking in a 180-degree panorama of treetops and the nearby Coral Sea.
A large, covered breezeway separates living and sleeping areas, drawing you outside as you move between spaces.
Sustainable materials are used throughout with mixed Australian hardwood timber floors, clear finished plywood ceilings to the living area, and low VOC and low emission products in joinery and cabinetwork.
By embracing the tropical climate and encouraging ventilation, Gavin Street Residence remains cool and comfortable, naturally, rather than needing to be an insular, climate-controlled box. With a thoughtful design which integrates indoors and outdoors seamlessly, the architects were able to keep to the size of the home compact, without making it feel small. It's the Least House Necessary, but it's also the best house possible.