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

Sustainable Homes

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.

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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 bea@thedesignfiles.net