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Stuart Harrison

by Jenny Butler
Tuesday 18th October 2011

Today Stuart Harrison features the Fremantle House from his upcoming book Forty Six Square Metres of Land Doesn’t Normally Become A House. To win one of two copies of  this book, leave a comment on any of Stuart’s posts between now and 10pm Thursday – the winners will be drawn randomly and announced on Friday. Good luck! – Jenny x

Fremantle House as see in Forty Six Square Metres of Land Doesn’t Normally Become A House. All photos – Robert Frith

I love this house – and it represents how smaller, more compact housing can work in somewhere like suburban Perth. It’s designed by Simon Pendal & Rebecca Angus and is 105 square metres – with the three people living there, a young growing family, each person has 35 square metres each. This information is in the book for each project – a ‘data bar’ runs along the bottom edge, making some interesting comparisons. The piece of land itself for this Fremantle House is 225sqm, so the remaining land is vital outdoor space – the house doesn’t fill up the site. It’s interesting to work out how much space you have at home per person – I’ve got about 40 square metres which is enough I think.

Looking into the plywood clad living room from the internal courtyard

I used to live in Perth and often new suburban houses there are 400sqm metres – four times the size of this one! And often only two people live in them – 200 square metres each! To give a comparison, a decent bedroom is about four by three metres – 12sqm. Big houses are bad for the planet, and by building big houses on smaller sites we have lost those great suburban gardens that make living there pleasant. This house is moment of resistance.

All photos – Robert Frith

This house makes the most of its site – the plan is very clever and creates view gaps out to the garden, as well as making the central living space tall, and fully glazed (but shaded) to the courtyard, so it seems bigger. It’s a simple elegant palette of timber, plywood and concrete floors and doesn’t need air-conditioning because the windows are shaded and cross-ventilation is used. I went there on a 40 degree day last summer, the retained native trees shading the house, it was cool.


by Jenny Butler
Tuesday 18th October 2011


  • wilfried 5 years ago

    I’m sure this design deserves the same amount of comments as the Alvaro designed house.
    imho, it resembles the approach Aldo Van Eyck (Nl) did years ago in some of his projects: the living area acts as a nearly public space between the two wings and all this reduced to this modest scale.
    Maybe less spectacular than the previous project, but definitively great in its small-ness.
    I’m glad I crossed by accident in may this year at these designfiles.net, from european point of view there seems to be a lot of unknown terrain to discover in the architecture of our antipodes.

  • Clare 5 years ago

    Yay! My hometown! I think it’s almost trite to observe that whether a small house works or not depends on the layout. We have bedrooms that are 4 x 3, and they’re perfect, but the lack of open-plan towards the back of our house, combined with some necessary extensions for indoor plumbing (hello, house of 1893) means we have no proper spot to put a dining table.

    I think they were so brave to retain so much of the block as garden. It’s just awesome. And when you’re talking about a growing family, it adds a lot more to your real living area. It’s actually an additional couplea hundred square metres for the kids to play.

  • JoanieO 5 years ago

    It’s an interesting side note that most of these houses have almost no “stuff” – how else would living in a small space be achievable. I know that many will have been styled for the photo shoots, but for a house with kids, this looks almost barren. The challenge is to find clients who not only are interested in maximising minimal space, but also letting go of the things that may clutter that vision.

  • Talei 5 years ago

    Wow – 40 degree day in Perth and no air-con ! What a great design. Eco-friendly in many ways !

  • Em 5 years ago

    This is great! I live in a little home. Love the plywood clad walls.

  • Pamela 5 years ago

    wow. I love that second shot, by bringing the outside in the space is completely amplified.

  • Ali 5 years ago

    Love a small house on a regular suburban block. The wall to wall and eaves to eaves of housing estates today make me sad. With a well designed space there is plenty of storage room for the important stuff as well and it lightens the soul to ditch the junk.

  • jas 5 years ago

    wahoo! That’s my home town! (well, perth is anyway!) I currently share space with my partner in 49sqm (total) after we downsized for 190sqm. It’s amazing how much cr*p you just don’t need or even use. Although we’d love to have a second bedroom, we live with what we’ve currently got and when the time comes we’ll go a little big, but never huge!

    I love however, that this house is so ‘open’ the large windows and doors allow outside in and vice versa. I feel that I’d want a little ‘softer’ furniture, but that’s a personal preferance on decorating, architecture wise, I love this space!

  • Xavier 5 years ago

    The data bar is interesting, looks great.

  • Margie 5 years ago

    so deliciously detailed!

  • Lee 5 years ago

    Sustainably small housing is a passion of mine – it’s so refreshing to see an Australian/New Zealand book addressing this agenda! Looking forward to reading it.

  • Amy 5 years ago

    I would have liked to see more photos. It’s hard to gauge the true size and functionality of the space. The bedroom and bathroom would be of particular interest. Having said that, from what I can see, it’s a beautiful design and I’d love to do something similar myself one day. Using space in a smart way is an appealing approach to living and far more sustainable in the cities – future population growth. Also, the political aspects of the “small house movement” in America is fascinating and worth a look. Nice work.

  • jo 5 years ago

    the light in this space looks amazing

  • Tina 5 years ago

    I loved the look of this house and can’t wait to lay my hands on Stuart’s book. I despair of the Australian obsession with McMansions. For quantity over quality and functionality. It’s great to see someone showcasing a different approach. And lovely also to see a Brisbane house on the next day’s blog, proving to outsiders our lovely city is not bereft of smart and elegant design.

  • Katherine 5 years ago

    what a beautiful house! love the shots of it too

  • Bianca 5 years ago

    Great new Architecture!
    Always great to see inside new design,

  • olivia 5 years ago

    loving the view gaps that look out to parts of the garden… looks beautiful!

  • emily 5 years ago

    thanks for sharing these exciting designs. it’s great to see imaginative Australian design utilising smaller spaces – it’s time we became a bit more innovative with the way we use space, and all of these houses do it just beautifully!

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