This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Surprise Garden Brings This 'Pop-Up' Home To Life

Architecture

More often than not, the preference for a sizeable family home outweighs the desire for a large garden, meaning designs for new renovations can often squeeze right to the boundary line. This is not the case for the Pop-Up House – a double storey residence that has been so cleverly designed by Figr that nearly half its 215m2 block is lush, landscaped areas.

Formerly a single-story, dilapidated weatherboard, the new three-bedroom home in Essendon packs a lot into a small footprint – including many window-seats, a netted play area suspended above the entrance, and various garden sections landscaped throughout!

8th April, 2021

The unconventional entrance is situated deep into the property, past the car port and shed and underneath the main bedroom upstairs. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

The front courtyard holds the entrance threshold and the dining room window seats. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Operable louvres clad the exterior, which protect the main bedroom windows from direct light and streetviews. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

A netted area overhead filters natural light through to the garden. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

The clever landscaped zones act as both scenery for the belly of the house, and shield the street from view. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Intricate exposed brickwork brings earthiness and solidity to the indoor-outdoor scheme. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Light, natural ply and forest green cabinetry create an interior palette consistent with the foliage and timber material expression established at the entrance. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Light comes in from the front window seat, the generous sliding doors and the stairwell void. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

In-built cabinetry is a nifty storage solution for the compact home. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

The small 215sqm block is maximised with generous outdoor areas that create a sense of spaciousness indoors. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Sliding glass doors allow for maximum light and flow to move through the house. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

The rear upstairs bedrooms overlook the generous back lawn. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

The upstairs area is connected by the open-air netted area. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Operable louvres adjust light, views and privacy into the main bedroom. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

A sloping, landscaped stretch connects an outdoor patio on the top floor to the street frontage – continuing strong connection between outdoors that is facilitated by the landscaped zones. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Sasha Gattermayr
Thursday 8th April 2021

The best thing about the Pop-Up House by Figr is not its abundance of custom window seats or its clean, origami-like facade (though these are pretty incredible) – it’s the carefully landscaped moments built into the design, that create constant connection with nature throughout the house.

This wouldn’t be so remarkable if the block were an average site, but the property sits at 215m2 in size, well below the average for family homes in Melbourne’s Essendon.

‘We wanted to minimise the building footprint to allow for generous landscape zones and site permeability,’ explains Figr director, Adi Atic, of the competing demands of an ambitious brief with a modest budget. ‘We overcame this by creating spaces that are flexible and malleable in their use.’

This meant devising a floorplan punctuated by discrete outdoor areas. Each of these spaces (expertly landscaped by Mud Office) are tucked into corners or woven into the home’s architectural fabric. Whether it’s window seats that open out onto garden beds or a netted play area overhanging the entry, the clever interplay between outdoors and in allows this small home to feel complex and dynamic.

Upon entry to the property, visitors are guided through an open-air carport to the threshold of the house. A network of plants interrupt the winding brickwork to the front door, which is characterised by dappled light from the overhanging net cover. The plantings in this secluded front courtyard serve a double purpose, as the scenic outlook it creates also conceals the main living areas from street view.

Once through the entry, the open plan kitchen, living and dining area unfolds itself. The interiors are clad with blonde ply, which enhances the natural light flooding in from the front and rear windows and staircase void, while forest green cabinetry continues to balance the colour palette between built and natural forms once inside the belly of the home.

Sliding doors connect the living room to an outdoor area laid with exposed brick and its long accompanying lawn.

Upstairs, the main bedroom sits above the car-port and is concealed from the street by operable louvres to adjust light, views and privacy. Moving through towards the rear garden lies a second living room that opens to a narrow outdoor terrace. (Due to its position on the boundary line, the patio looks down to the street via a skinny landscaped slope dotted with tulips!) This secreted space is connected to the netted area above the ground-floor threshold, while two other bedrooms lie at the rear of the level and overlook the backyard.

Despite its size, the clever interventions of greenery and light make this small home feel spacious and perfectly zoned.

The Pop-Up House has an impressive 6-star NatHers rating. See more projects from FIGR. here.

This Week

Gardens

A Grandmother's Accessible, Flower-Filled Dream Garden!

Outdoor Establishments have turned a barren acreage in outer Sydney into an elderly client's dream garden featuring Eco Outdoor products.

Homes

A Modern Family’s Treetop Rental Property

The heartwarming North Warrandyte rental of Tilly Barber, her six-year-old son Mars, and friends Albee Barton and Justyn Burrow.

Shopping

The Aboriginal-Owned Homewares Brand Bringing First Nations Art To Homes + Classrooms Across Australia!

Bundjalung/Minjungbal woman Emma Rolls of Emro Designs shares her collection of rugs, cushions and soon-to-be-released picnic mats featuring...

Architecture

A Dessert-Inspired ‘60s Home Makeover!

From banana Paddle Pop yellow, to chocolatey timber, this 1960s home makeover by Wowowa brings colour and personality to this mid century ho...

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life of ‘Hamilton’ Star, Chloé Zuel

We go behind the scenes of the Australian production of the most famous musical in the world - with Eliza Hamilton herself!

Interiors

This Revamped Edwardian Home Has A Different Mood For Every Room

Interior Designer Georgina Jeffries delivers a classic yet contemporary makeover of a heritage home – where moments of delight are everywh...

In Print

A Rustic Shed Accommodation On The Victorian Surfcoast Hinterland

Lose yourself in the classic Lynda Gardener aesthetic with her new book 'Curate: Inspiration for an Individual Home' published by Hachette A...
Ali Heath

Food

Julia's Miso Salmon Bowl With Udon Noodles And Crunchy Greens

The onset of winter and lockdown in Victoria means we're back in comfort food mode – and this warm miso salmon bowl with crunchy greens h...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Creative People

A Truly Magical Tapestry Collaboration Between Local Artists + Weavers

Works by Eugenia Lim, Atong Atem, Troy Emery and Hayley Millar Baker were recrafted as tapestries by weavers at the Australian Tapestry Work...

Stays

A Quaint + Charming Holiday Cottage That Feels Like Home

Lotte's Hjem is a 150-year-old weatherboard nestled in the heart of Pambula on the Sapphire Coast.

Architecture

An Architect’s Reworking Of Sir Roy Grounds’ Former Balmain Home

A heritage 1970s house in Balmain once owned by Sir Roy Grounds has been its re-engineered by its present owner, architect Conrad Johnston o...

Art

The Secret Mystical Paintings of International Art Sensation, Hilma af Klint

The visionary Swedish artist’s enormous colourful artworks were hidden from the world for decades. Now, they are on show at Art Gallery of...

Creative People

Andalusian-Inspired Lampshades, Handwoven In Sydney

Lana Launay makes her textured light covers from natural materials such as coffee-stained raffia, coconut shell rope and bamboo yarn.

Studio Visit

The Amazing Art-Making Of Thea Anamara Perkins

The Arrernte and Kalkadoon artist is renowned for her vivid, personal portraits of prominent First Nations figures. We talked to the accompl...

Architecture

A Malaysian-Inspired Adaptable House In Brisbane

'Three House' by architect John Ellway sees three pavilions brought together as one breathable, flexible home in Paddington.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Sustainable Homes

A Lush Inner-Melbourne Home That Powers Itself

The owners of Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects pay nothing for fuel or power – it all comes from this epic, high-tech sustainable...

Sustainable Homes

A Former Corner Store Turned Sustainable Family Home

A dilapidated, Federation-era shopfront is transformed into a truly unique, energy efficient home by CplusC Architectural Workshop.

Architecture

A Gloriously Verdant Inner-City Extension

BKK Architects design a contemporary addition around its luscious, sprawling garden for a pair of self-declared introverts in North Fitzroy....
Sasha Gattermayr

This Week

Architecture

A Dessert-Inspired ‘60s Home Makeover!

From banana Paddle Pop yellow, to chocolatey timber, this 1960s home makeover by Wowowa brings colour and personality to this mid century ho...

Architecture

An Architect’s Reworking Of Sir Roy Grounds’ Former Balmain Home

A heritage 1970s house in Balmain once owned by Sir Roy Grounds has been its re-engineered by its present owner, architect Conrad Johnston o...

Gardens

A Grandmother's Accessible, Flower-Filled Dream Garden!

Outdoor Establishments have turned a barren acreage in outer Sydney into an elderly client's dream garden featuring Eco Outdoor products.

Architecture

A Malaysian-Inspired Adaptable House In Brisbane

'Three House' by architect John Ellway sees three pavilions brought together as one breathable, flexible home in Paddington.

Shopping

The Aboriginal-Owned Homewares Brand Bringing First Nations Art To Homes + Classrooms Across Australia!

Bundjalung/Minjungbal woman Emma Rolls of Emro Designs shares her collection of rugs, cushions and soon-to-be-released picnic mats featuring...

Art

The Secret Mystical Paintings of International Art Sensation, Hilma af Klint

The visionary Swedish artist’s enormous colourful artworks were hidden from the world for decades. Now, they are on show at Art Gallery of...

Studio Visit

The Amazing Art-Making Of Thea Anamara Perkins

The Arrernte and Kalkadoon artist is renowned for her vivid, personal portraits of prominent First Nations figures. We talked to the accompl...

Stays

A Quaint + Charming Holiday Cottage That Feels Like Home

Lotte's Hjem is a 150-year-old weatherboard nestled in the heart of Pambula on the Sapphire Coast.

In Print

A Rustic Shed Accommodation On The Victorian Surfcoast Hinterland

Lose yourself in the classic Lynda Gardener aesthetic with her new book 'Curate: Inspiration for an Individual Home' published by Hachette A...
Ali Heath

Food

Julia's Miso Salmon Bowl With Udon Noodles And Crunchy Greens

The onset of winter and lockdown in Victoria means we're back in comfort food mode – and this warm miso salmon bowl with crunchy greens h...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Interiors

This Revamped Edwardian Home Has A Different Mood For Every Room

Interior Designer Georgina Jeffries delivers a classic yet contemporary makeover of a heritage home – where moments of delight are everywh...

Homes

A Modern Family’s Treetop Rental Property

The heartwarming North Warrandyte rental of Tilly Barber, her six-year-old son Mars, and friends Albee Barton and Justyn Burrow.

Creative People

Andalusian-Inspired Lampshades, Handwoven In Sydney

Lana Launay makes her textured light covers from natural materials such as coffee-stained raffia, coconut shell rope and bamboo yarn.

Creative People

A Truly Magical Tapestry Collaboration Between Local Artists + Weavers

Works by Eugenia Lim, Atong Atem, Troy Emery and Hayley Millar Baker were recrafted as tapestries by weavers at the Australian Tapestry Work...

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life of ‘Hamilton’ Star, Chloé Zuel

We go behind the scenes of the Australian production of the most famous musical in the world - with Eliza Hamilton herself!

Similar Stories

Sustainable Homes

A Lush Inner-Melbourne Home That Powers Itself

The owners of Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects pay nothing for fuel or power – it all comes from their home!

Sustainable Homes

A Former Corner Store Turned Sustainable Family Home

A dilapidated, Federation-era shopfront is transformed into a truly unique, energy efficient home.

Architecture

A Gloriously Verdant Inner-City Extension

BKK Architects design a contemporary addition around its luscious, sprawling garden for a pair of self-declared introverts in North Fitzroy....
Sasha Gattermayr

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.