Melbourne Pocket House

Whiting Architects has maximized the space of a small home to create a functional and inspiring design for a young couple and their dog in Melbourne, Australia.

  • area / size 1,388 sqft
  • Year 2018
  • Location Melbourne, Australia,
  • Type House,
  • The existing single fronted terrace was well overdue for an update and the brief was to create a functional and inspiring home for a couple with a large dog. With a compact 96m2 to work with we looked at how we could maximise every inch of space available on the site and cheat extra space where needed.

    The clients are a young working couple who like to entertain. The home needed to be flexible enough to work for just the two of them and also work while entertaining guests. The opportunity to capture city views, and thus a roof terrace, allowed the ground floor footprint to extend almost to the rear laneway boundary without fear of losing outdoor space. The addition of the rooftop terrace offered a space for entertaining guests outdoors as well as an outdoor area for their large dog.

    We needed to combine a living, dining, kitchen and laundry into a mere 32m2 whilst still giving the impression of space. Small space is something we are very familiar with. We were confident we could create a solution that maximised every inch of available space.

    We used light to give an impression of extra space. Long skylights were used in the dining and living areas and capture north light, keeping the house bright even on a grey Melbourne day. Another large skylight was used in the bathroom making it feel very generous for a small house. An internal courtyard provides natural light to the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen and creates a pocket of texture and greenery in the centre of the house.

    Extra space was cheated by concealing the appliances in the kitchen and laundry allowing the two areas to bleed into each other as well as living and dining areas. The window box adds additional seating in the living area while not adding to the building footprint.

    The laundry joinery is one continuous run of panelled joinery. The kitchen joinery wraps around the hallway wall to include the bathroom door and looks like one continuous element. Boxes and planes provide texture through repetition. We retained the same language across the various elements to tie them all together.

    We kept it deliberately simple using texture over colour as space was limited both physically and visually. The muted background allows the different light quality inherent throughout the day to create everchange patterns of light. There is a real reliance of light and shadow in the interior. The use of timber, leather, stone, concrete and soft furnishings provide texture, warmth and depth.

    The kitchen is a collection of components intended to play down the feeling of a kitchen. The table is allowed to dominate while the actual kitchen elements become secondary. The refrigerator for example is visually non-existent in the space. Treating the component elements as furniture items is a great way to breakdown the mass of a kitchen

    For this young couple we concentrated on creating good quality space within limited space. A home that was elegant and functional for themselves as well as friends (and the dog) on this pocket-sized site.

    Architecture: Whiting Architects
    Design: Swee Lim
    Photography: Shannon McGrath