City Homes

A Stacked Home In St Kilda For Every Family Member

By 2050, Melbourne will have a population of 8 million – doubling in just 40 years.

‘It is a fact that Melbourne has an oversupply of smaller studio apartments, driven by the international investment market’, Matt Gibson of Matt GibsonArchitecture + Design (MGAD) explains, ‘and on the flip side, a shortage of quality family housing’.

When the clients of this home – the builder and interior designer team behind DDB Design – approached Matt about building a family home on a narrow site, all parties involved saw the opportunity to create a unique, long-term solution for multigenerational living.

Sally Tabart
Supports The Design Files

‘Mixed Use Home’ by Matt Gibson Architecture + Design and DDB Design. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

The stacked home is divided into ‘zones’ that include communal living, personal and retreat. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

Access to views was a key consideration in the design process. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

The Mixed Use House comprises 10 stacked zinc boxes. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

The home accommodates multiple generations of the same family. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

A central vertical atrium provides ample daylight internally. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

The clients were a forward-thinking builder and an interior designer with the future in mind. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

A bedroom, looking out over the treetops. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

A bedroom, looking out over the treetops. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

Each bedroom has its own ensuite and feels more like self-contained studios. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

Designer details. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

The stacked home accommodates the clients, their adult children, and a young daughter. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

Going upwards was the only solution on this narrow, awkward site. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

In keeping with zoning requirements, the ground level of the site is used for commercial purposes. Photo – Shannon Mcgrath.

Sally Tabart
16th of July 2019

‘Multi-generational living is becoming more prevalent in Australia, driven partly by the housing affordability crisis, but also because it offers convenience, better amenity and keeps costs low through shared resource and family support’, Matt Gibson of Matt Gibson Architecture and Design explains.

Opposite a freeway at one end, and residential housing at the other, this tricky site was to be a home for a couple (a property industry professional and an interior designer, who run DDB Design) to live in alongside their adult children, their partners, and a young daughter. Located in St Kilda on a strip zoned for business, the design solution needed to accommodate the large family, as well as plenty of space for extended family and friends, whilst also meeting the zoning requirements.

The clients saw this an opportunity to ‘embrace inner city living and challenge the traditional “quarter acre block” housing typology in Australia’ architect Matt Gibson explains. He and his clients went upward on the awkward, challenging site, leaving the ground floor open to commercial use, as per regulations, and creating linked, stacked residences for the family. The southern façade facing the residential area divides into ten zinc-clad boxes set back at varying intervals.

Three clear zones make up the residential spaces – communal (living level), personal (bedroom levels), and retreat (access to views and private open space). ‘Each bedroom features its own bathroom and breakout space and in many ways feel like individual self-contained studios’, Matt tells. ‘Ensuite services are stacked, taking a multi-residential approach with a view to possible future use.’ A large, vertical central atrium allows for ample natural light to radiate through the various rooms and residences, creating unique moments of beauty unexpected in apartment-style living.

With the reality of massive population increase upon us, and house prices unattainable for many, it’s so important we are reconsidering what is both achievable and desirable for long-term housing solutions. This Mixed Use House is similar in size to the neighbouring terrace houses, while only using a fraction of the land mass to house multiple people. It’s inspiring to see architects like Matt Gibson and industry professionals DDB Design collaborating to come up with alternatives for medium-density accommodation that doesn’t compromise on quality of life, and takes a holistic approach to more sustainable long-term future living!

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