‘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!