Small House Fits on a Site the Size of a Suburban Garage

Small House by Domenic Alvaro Architect

Architect: Domenic Alvaro Architect Photographs: Trevor Mein article Size: 180 m2 Location: Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Tags: Urban Homes, New Homes, Apartments

Sydney has some of the highest land prices in the world. Even a successful young couple like Domenic Alvaro (a principal prolific architecture firm, Woods Baggot) and his partner Sue Bassett can be priced out of the market. Luckily for Domenic, his architectural background helped him to see potential in a tiny inner-city site that many others missed. The site was once a car-park for three cars. At just 6 x 7 meters, the site is barely the size on an average suburban double car garage. But Domenic realized that the area lent itself to multistory development. And by building up, he would be able to fit in everything you would find in a luxury apartment -- as long as you don't mind stairs!

Small House precast concrete exterior
Urban Homes, New Homes, Apartments, Concrete Houses

Vertical Apartment

The result of Domenic's foresight is a five story home. Each level contains another 'room' in the apartment -- a garage on the ground floor, bedroom and en-suite bathroom on the first floor, kitchen and dining on the second floor, intimate lounge on the third floor and an office and roof top garden with spectacular views of Sydney city to reward yourself with on the fourth floor. Ultimately the vertical apartment has it all -- it's a modern home with great views, connection to the outdoors and a stellar inner-city location.

Small House kitchen and dining
White Kitchens, Staircases, Kitchens, Dining Areas, Armchairs
Small House kitchen and dining
White Kitchens, Kitchens, Dining Areas

Kitchen and dining area

Small House view over Sydney
Urban Homes, Staircases, Armchairs

View over Sydney

Window to the View

Large sliding windows open the home to light and air. The windows are glazed with low-e glass to help reduce solar heat gain while still making the most of the views.

Small House lounge room
Staircases, Rugs, Lounge Suites, Armchairs, Coffee Tables, Nogouchi Coffee Table

Lounge area

Fun to Ascend

As you ascend through the home new rooms and views open up to you -- you barely notice all those steps!

Small House stairs
Small House stairs
Small House stairs
Staircases, Planters, Lamps
Small House stairs detail
Urban Homes, Staircases

Cantilevered Stair

Stair for Light, Air (and Climbing)

The narrow stair that rises through the home is cantilevered from the concrete structure -- giving it the appearance of floating. This allows light and air to penetrate between levels to make the home feel more spacious and airy. It also helps acoustically -- allowing Sue to shout, "bring me a glass of water when you come up" for Domenic to hear in the kitchen.

Small House facade
Urban Homes, Outdoor Areas, Concrete Houses
Small House facade
Urban Homes, Concrete Houses
Small House facade
Urban Homes, Concrete Houses
Small House facade
Concrete Houses

Precast concrete exterior

Precast Efficiency

The building is constructed from precast concrete panels, protecting it from the gritty inner-city lifestyle. The concrete structure was erected in just four days(!) and had a number of economical and efficiency benefits which helped to reduce costs:

“Built entirely from high quality precast concrete (including floors), fabricated off site and erected on site over a four-day period. Wall and floor panels, cast in provisions for stairs, balustrades, windows and light fittings were produced off site, minimizing on-site construction time and disturbance to the surrounding neighbourhood.” -- Domenic Alvaro (via ArchitectureAU

Small House bedroom level
Joinery, Bathrooms, Basins, Baths

Bedroom and en-suite bathroom level

Small House office and balcony garden
Urban Homes, Outdoor Areas, Sliding Glass Doors, Home Offices
Small House office and balcony garden
Outdoor Areas, Sliding Glass Doors, Planters, Home Offices

Study and rooftop garden

Green Crown

The level of light gradually increases as you move up through the house. The lower level garage and bedroom are sensibly darker. But with the increasing light, a sense of growing anticipation builds. Thankfully, you're not disappointed once you get to the top. A generous outdoor space with lush green planting crowns the house -- taking in spectacular views of inner-city Sydney. This all important outdoor space is something that so many apartments lack - it feels luxurious in this gritty urban context.

Small House Ground Floor Plan
House Plans

Ground Floor Plan: Garage and powder room.

Small House First Floor Plan
House Plans

First Floor Plan: Bedroom and en-suite bathroom.

Small House Second Floor Plan
House Plans

Second Floor Plan: Kitchen and dining area.

Small House Third Floor Plan
House Plans

Third Floor Plan: Lounge room.

Small House Fourth Floor Plan
House Plans

Fourth Floor Plan: Study and rooftop garden.

Small House Front Elevation

Front Elevation

Small House Exploded Axonometric

Exploded Axonometric

Ingenious Response

Small House is an ingenious response to an all too common problem -- land scarcity and housing affordability, particularly in well-serviced inner city areas. If even hard working, successful young people can't afford to buy in the city, we've got a serious problem. Luckily we have imaginative people like Domenic who are able to question conventional thinking on planning and density in inner city areas and offer viable alternatives. Hopefully in the future we'll see fewer car-parks and more space efficient inner-city apartments like this taking their place.

To see another home that grew up instead of out, take a look at HOUSE House. Or, how about another tiny house made completely out of concrete?

What do you think about Small House? Will we be seeing more vertical apartments in the future?

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