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A Prototype For Accessible + Responsible Suburban Housing

Sustainable Homes

According to a recent report by the ABC, developments in the outer suburbs of big cities can get up to 10 degrees hotter than the city centre. This is due to overdevelopment and poor town planning, where every inch of usable land is occupied with a house, thereby leaving little room for either private or public open place.

From both a human and environmental perspective, we desperately need responsibly designed, accessible housing in new suburban developments. The LiveWorkShare House by Bligh Graham Architects is a prototype for sustainable, flexible housing in high-density blocks.

Located in Samford village just outside Brisbane, the project covers only 40% of its 612 sqm site. Formulated with the work-from-home model in mind, the architects emphasise smart design as a way to achieve the trifecta of functional diversity, density and green space at once.

28th February, 2022

The vision for The LiveWorkShare House by Bligh Graham Architects was for a flexible and sustainable housing solution in the heart of suburbia. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

The metalwork was completed by Peter Maguire. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

Polished concrete has been used inside for thermal mass. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

Solid shutters for sun control and privacy (in lieu of curtains) enable ventilation at all times. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

Stained birch plywood finished in a hardwax oil features in the kitchen and dining space. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

Indoor/outdoor flow is maximised with a seamless transition between interior and exterior spaces. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

‘We love the combination of the permeability, gardens and distinct defined rooms,’ says Chris. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

The bathroom echoes the greenery captured inside and outside. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

In juxtaposition to the exterior the interior is has a smooth and silky waxed finish for most part. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

The translucent green fibreglass captures shadows and becomes lantern-like at night. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

‘The project with its inherent flexibility also means that it will be able to adapt to our  and kids and our businesses various stages of life and practice,’ says Chris. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

The robust tin and rough sawn hardwood was offset by a playful use of colour (orange shutters and on the curtain) and the translucent green fibreglass with its smooth partially reflective surface. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

The green fibreglass wraps around an external staircase. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 28th February 2022

‘While the look and feel of the project is particular to our site and budget, it is the ideas embedded in its planning strategy that are transferable.’ – Chris Bligh

The LiveWorkShare House by Bligh Graham Architects is a prototype for flexible and sustainable living that can be applied in any context, from semi-regional spaces to the middle of suburbia.

‘The feel we were after, was for it to be like a mini tropical village,’ says architect Chris Bligh. ‘No direct aesthetic influence apart from a desire to have a conversation with the immediate neighbours, and the larger context of the semi-rural village that the project is situated in.’

Located in Samford Village, a small town just outside Brisbane, the idea was to make the house as functional as possible, with maximum connection to the outdoors. Comprising a residence, small commercial office and self-contained flat, the house expands and contracts for different purposes.

‘While the look and feel of the project is particular to our site and budget, it is the ideas embedded in its planning strategy that are transferable,’ says Chris. ‘By composing the project as as series of single-room deep pavilions arranged around a central courtyard, and separated by “micro-courtyards”, all parts of the project have excellent amenity and enhanced flexibility of use.’

Crucially, rooms can be repurposed within the sequence to ensure flexibility over time. For example, the spare bedroom could become part of the office or the flat could become a separate dwelling entirely.

Verge gardens and ‘porous’ street-side edges allow the house to socialise with the outside world and vice versa; large bi-fold doors and windows create transitional space between the built and natural forms. These green zones punctuate the interior layout, offering fresh outlooks and moments of reprieve.

The material selection reflected the raw, earthy nature of the build, allowing the residence to slip into the semi-rural suburban context defined by tin and timber. The internal palette is the opposite, featuring a ‘smooth and silky wax finish’. Custom brass accents lift the darkened space, which is designed to passively deflect light and heat, and accentuate the landscape.

‘It is vital that we find a better way of densifying the suburbs other than the current trend to cram as much building on a site as possible, with no room left for gardens or the ability to make a climatically responsive design with good amenity and privacy,’ emphasises Chris.

With design like this, the future looks hopeful!

See more projects from Bligh Graham Architects 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