There is a growing sector of progressive housing companies producing small footprint homes to address issues of housing affordability and sustainability. The newest to the Australian market is Dimensions X, launched by Pedestrian co-founder Oscar Martin in collaboration with prominent architect Peter Stutchbury.
Oscar was inspired to enter the design and building industry after selling Pedestrian — the digital publishing company he co-founded 15 years earlier. He signed up for a building diploma requiring two years of practical experience, so he purchased ‘the worst house in North Bondi’ to learn the ropes firsthand.
‘I was shocked at the process: the insane cost and refinement of plans for one home, weather halting proceedings, budgets blowing out, $500 skip bin after $500 skip bin leaving the site weekly… So much waste!’
Oscar thought there must be another way, leading him to research prefabricated housing options.
‘I couldn’t understand why the top Australian architects weren’t offering one,’ he says. ‘On top of that, there was nothing on the market that genuinely put the planet at the top of the brief… I was convinced there was a gap in the market for the “Tesla of housing” — planet-friendly architecture.’
Oscar reached out to his favourite architect Peter Stutchbury with a pitch to join forces and make it happen. Peter had actually designed a similar project years earlier, but it never went into production. ‘He said architecture needs to respond to place,’ says Oscar.
Oscar, Peter and project architect Alejo De Achaval experimented with numerous approaches over the coming years, even coming close to releasing the first 3D house printer to Australia (‘only to realise that it required ‘printing’ on a flat surface — not ideal for the Australian landscape,’ says Oscar), before the OM-1 was born.
A CLT (cross laminated timber) construction model was selected based on supply, carbon footprint, cost, flexibility, recyclability and ease of construction. An innovative, concrete-free foundation system adapts to site conditions and clearance requirements, with skylights oriented to best benefit conditions.
Peter says OM-1’s point of difference compared to other small footprint homes lies in its flexibility. ‘Dimensions X is not a box – it reflects architecture and retains a flexibility unique in prefabrication models,’ he says.
OM-1 will be available in four sizes ranging from 15 to 60 square metres internally, but each design is flexible with no set layout. A second storey is also possible with an external standardised spiral stair.
When Dimensions X officially launches in 2023, consumers can customise the designs online (Atlassian recently reached out to help build the concept) and order for offsite manufacturing in around 12 weeks. Flat packed panels will be transported to site able to be assembled in four to six weeks using written and video instructions. Meccano-like construction means the homes can be disassembled and stored or relocated over time as desired.
The OM-1 prototype is located at Krinklewood, the Hunter Valley winery Oscar also owns, and will be accessible for customers to ‘try before they buy.’ Several more Dimensions X homes are planned for the property, masterplanned by Peter to include a motel, bathhouse and more.
Pricing for the OM-1 is yet to be determined. Register your interest on the Dimensions X website.