SMALL LOT, BIG IDEAS
Rapid population growth and a conscious effort to reduce urban sprawl have seen an increase in the infill of existing established areas, re development of existing homes and the creation of new smaller lot developments. In Perth alone, 29% of lots approved in 2013 were less than 320 square metres, a significant increase from 11% in 2009.
Our busier lifestyles, smaller family sizes, urge to live closer to the city and growing demand for a low maintenance “lock-and-leave” home has further encouraged the rise in these smaller lots and therefore pushed us to re evaluate what we consider the ‘standard’ home design. For those willing to compromise on location, it is possible to move further out of the city and still find a lot size to suit your larger home dreams, however, for many individuals this is not realistic and we now must learn how to work with smaller lot sizes to create the house of our dreams.
With the use of clever thinking and smart design, it is still possible to fit your dream home on to these lots, however, small sacrifices are required in less important areas. Naturally, on a smaller block, there is less room for wasted space, therefore making every square metre all the more valuable. Long corridors eating up precious space, single use rooms and large voids should no longer have a place in small lot design.
Swapping traditional rooms, such as a walk through laundry, for features such as a European style laundry hidden behind doors, ensures no space is wasted and every square meter serves a functional purpose. This small change can bring a saving as great as 10 square metres, as well as giving the single use passage space a second functional use.
Multi functioning zones, turning a single use room into a dual use, is a great space saving measure. An area such as a dining room can easily be transformed into a study area with the smart inclusion of desk and storage in discrete areas. Effectively, the dining room can now be used as a study, without having any effect on its initial functioning purpose.
A living space that can be discretely closed off when privacy is required to create a private media room eliminates the need for a separate media/theatre room. Having this functionality also allows for the living space and media room to be opened up to create one large space when required for entertaining.
A kitchen design that incorporates a dining space is another way to create a multifunctioning zone. The level of inclusion or seperation between zones for any of the above options comes down to the overall building space and the requirements to fit within this building space.
These smaller lots bring up new design challenges that require smart design solutions. In order to utilise every square meter of the block, items such as the side boundary parapet walls are common practice. This gives you less wasted space, reducing the unused dead space along the side of the house, in order to increase space in more frequently used areas, such as your outdoor entertaining and garden zone. However, these parapets do bring along their own challenges, making it difficult to allow natural light and ventilation into the home. It is also important to ensure that with parapet walls, a design is created whereby the owners do not feel blocked in by bricks walls in all directions.
It is important to remember that small lots by no means limit your possibilities- they open up a whole new world of design solutions!