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A 90m² Inner-Suburban Block Turned Multipurpose Family Home!

Architecture

The client of this project came to MRTN Architects with a specific vision; create a home, office, and granny flat, all on a 90m² Brunswick East block. 

What followed was a Tetris-like process, testing various combinations, resulting in this incredibly clever, multipurpose three-storey home.  

This project is tailor-made for the owner, Eva, and her daughter, while setting a wonderful example of what can be achieved on postage stamp-sized sites around inner-city Melbourne. 

30th July, 2021

This hardworking projects encompasses a family home, office, and granny flat on a mere 90m² block. Painting by Minnie Pwerle. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

Eva and her daughter at home! Painting by Minnie Pwerle. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

MRTN Architects conducted a Tetris-like process testing various combinations, resulting in this incredibly clever, multipurpose three-storey home.  Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

The open kitchen, dining and living space contains a seat-height split level concealing built-in storage. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

White painted plasterboard and American oak veneer and floors internally create a sense of spaciousness and help in unifying the living spaces with the circulation spaces. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

The project spans three storeys. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

Sliding doors open the kitchen to a north-facing terrace Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

The ground floor office with poured-in-place concrete stairs. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

The bathroom window sits between shower and bathtub, creating a Japanese-esque ‘bath balcony.’ Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

The office has its own street entrance. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

‘We also looked at Japanese small houses as precedents and also houses that had a sculptural presence to the street rather than purely residential,’ says Antony of the project. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea Lambos of Bea + Co

Amelia Barnes
Friday 30th July 2021

‘She really had a vision of how this house had to work for her and her daughter and was not willing to compromise on requirements just because the land size was small.’ – Antony Martin

The owner of this home, named Eva, had a clear vision when purchasing a 90m² block on a tight Brunswick East street. 

Despite the land previously being an adjoining property’s garden, Eva saw potential to create a family home incorporating a ground floor office space and a self-contained granny flat, that could be rented out for additional income. Also high on Eva’s list; an outdoor terrace, and a Japanese-style bath!

‘She really had a vision of how this house had to work for her and her daughter and was not willing to compromise on requirements just because the land size was small,’ says Antony Martin of MRTN Architects who designed the home.

The first challenge was determining how exactly all these elements would fit on site. Antony says this was initially solved through a ‘Tetris-like’ process exploring various combinations of home, office, garage and granny flat. To make matters more complicated, a power pole right in front of the home further constrained the building envelope.

‘We went down to the site with three colours of spray paint and marked out each floor in a different colour to better understand the scale of the spaces,’ Antony says.

The resulting home spans three storeys, starting with the entry that fulfils three functions: a street-level office for Eva’s business; access to the ground floor granny flat; and the front door of the home. 

Poured-in-place concrete stairs lead to the first floor featuring an open kitchen, dining and living space over a seat-height split level concealing built-in storage. Sliding-doors off the kitchen open to a north facing terrace. 

The bedrooms on the upper floor also have a north-facing outlook and a surprising amount of storage hidden within the sloping roof space. Separating them is the bathroom – the window of which actually sits between shower and tub, creating a Japanese-esque ‘bath balcony.’

The design of this home not only achieves Eva’s brief, but also provides a distinctive presence on the street. ‘We also looked at Japanese small houses as precedents and also houses that had a sculptural presence to the street rather than purely residential,’ says Antony.

In designing a home, office and income source all on 90m², this project serves as a stellar example of what can be achieved on compact, urban sites. MRTN Architects hope to unlock similar opportunities to increase density and provide housing security on pocket sites all over the city. Bring it on!

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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