MDC Architects were invited to speak at the Open House Perth talk series Design Matters in 2021. The topic of the event was called ‘The Innovators’ and explored themes within housing design such as; affordability, liveability and the size of our homes. 

Our projects explore each of these themes, amongst others, in the context of the sustainability and embodied energy within each of our buildings.  

Given that residential construction forms such a large portion of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in Australia, we must become more critical of the homes we are building or renovating and the kind of spaces we need to be occupying. The average size of a new home in Australia has increased to just over 230m2; an astounding figure when you consider this is across all types of new homes. The added negative of this is the environmental impact that results from the construction of these new homes, either via demolition of existing building stock or the clearing of land and loss of biodiversity. It is at this point that we need to take stock of our current practices and evaluate what our expectations are when building our homes; perhaps we need to change our mindset and learn to live with less.

Our practice looks at this notion of ‘living with less’ not in a reductive sense with respect to the quality of our living but more so in the context of doing more with less. This may be through the repurposing of spaces within an existing home such as within our Megalong project or simply through a reduction of floor area for a new build, instead focusing on efficiencies within space and an examination of volume over area; a concept explored within our Carrington St Terraces.

Our practice firmly believes that quality of living does not stem from the size of space or the number of rooms: these factors are a result of a market rhetoric formulated by financial institutions and real estate sales. Liveability is a qualitative notion that varies between people based on their own personal values. The relationship to a garden or sunlight might be something that creates a comfortable living environment, or perhaps the use of specific materials that offer a tactility and warmth. To create a truly liveable home, we must consider what this term truly means, and detach ourselves from the notion that the value ($) of a building is directly proportionate to its size, instead placing value on less quantifiable factors.