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Stuart Harrison - Forty-Six Square Metres Of Land Doesn't Normally Become A House

17th October, 2011
Jenny Butler
Monday 17th October 2011

Today we welcome Stuart Harrison to the Guest Blog! Odds are you will be familiar with some or all of Stuart's work- he's a respected Melbourne architect, co-host of Triple RRR’s radio show ‘The Architects’ and the author of ‘A place in the Sun’. Stuart's second book has just been published with Thames and Hudson and this week we are lucky to have Stuart sharing 5 outstanding projects from his new book Forty-Six Square Metres Of Land Doesn't Normally Become A House. -Jenny x

The cover of Stuart Harrison's new book- Forty Six Square Meters of Land Doesn't Normally Become A House. Published by Thames & Husdon.

So I’m excited to be guest blogging on The Design Files – and this week I’m going to talk a bit about great housing design – and show some inspiring projects from my new book, Forty-Six Square Metres Of Land Doesn't Normally Become A House. It’s a crazy title and a little more about that in a second, but is really about showing some great types of dwellings that aren’t MASSIVE. Australians have the biggest houses in the world (yes bigger than Americans), and these are often both big and pretty bad, so I was keen to show how smaller compact housing could be good, well-designed and part of a more shared idea of the city. So no mansions, not fortresses. In a coffee table book format.

The Small House by Domenic Alvaro. All photos - Trevor Mein.

The kitchen and dining level of the Small House

Myself, designer Stuart Geddes and editor Paulina de Laveaux were struggling to come up with a good title. There were plenty of bad ones. The idea floated of not having a title at all, and of starting the book on the cover, not to waste space, which is what we did. The title is the first line of the text, which I had already written, the Forty-Six Square Metres….. It was about the first project, the Small House by Domenic Alvaro, but the line also spoke to the wider idea of the book, that small pockets of land could become good houses. So today I’m talking about that house, the one that starts it off. The projects are organised through land size, smallest at the start, biggest at the back (and on the back cover). 45 dwellings are featured, each with many photographs, plans (at the same scale) and cross-sections.

Looking down onto the rooftop garden and study. All photos - Trevor Mein.

Looking through the study out onto the rooftop garden

To give an idea of scale for this house, the site before was used as small carpark in Sydney, enough for three cars only – that’s the 46 square metres. What has replaced it is a five storey house, with one idea of living on each level – the top is a garden and study, the levels below eating and lounging, a bedroom on the first floor. The ground level is garage that can become another bedroom or home-office.

The lounging level of the Small House by Domenic Alvaro

It’s proudly built out of concrete, and gets its aspect, a sense of space, from the surrounding terraces and commercial buildings. It’s very urban but works as well a house. It also featured on Grand Design Australia, which gave a great insight to what was involved in getting this ‘vertical’ house up.

- Stuart

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email