Transforming the world, one room at a time

Learn about Australia’s small and sustainable living designs. Transforming the world, one room at a time.

7 min read
Through smart design and creative use of space, we can transform the way we live and interact with our growing cities.

The great Australian dream of owning a house with a big backyard and pool is deeply ingrained in our culture and has continued to drive urban spread. However, with soaring property prices, and the desire for people to be closer to work, shops and amenities, many Australians are embracing smaller living spaces in metropolitan locations.

The best design ideas and solutions for small format living are showcased through Never Too Small’s documentary style series. Across the world, architects and designers are transforming small spaces into unique and sustainable designs, tackling urban overcrowding issues globally whilst improving the quality of life.

Through smart design and creative use of space, these micro-apartments and houses offer a potential solution to Australia’s affordable housing crisis and gridlocked highways. Revolutionising the way we live and interact with our growing cities, one green step at a time.

A doll’s house

Globally, there’s a rapid urbanisation happening and now until 2050, there’s estimated to be an extra 2.5 billion people moving to cities. Because of this the demand for compact, affordable living spaces are on the rise.

Brad Swartz, the architect of this award winning 24m2 micro home, is passionate about revitalising old and existing housing stock to make our cities more sustainable in the face of increasing density.

The apartment named ‘Boneca’ (doll’s house in Portuguese), is located in Rushcutters Bay and has a sense of luxury and refinement way beyond its size.

Good design a way to ensure that small footprint living in our cities feels like a luxury rather than a compromise. It’s economically sustainable, saves resources and is inevitably better for our cities.

“The key to unlocking the potential of a small footprint space is containing the ‘amenities for life’ to the smallest possible area to create the largest possible living space”, Swartz explains.

Not too small for Nightingale

Located in the heart of Fairfield, this tiny Melbourne apartment inspires a vision for Australia’s housing future.

Nightingale Housing was formed by a group of leading Australian architects to create housing in cities that is built to support well-being, community and liveability. James Legge, one of the architects leading the second Nightingale project is passionate about developing independent projects that deliver long term financial, environmental and socially sustainable outcomes.

“The apartment Nightingale 2, is part of a wider project, based on the idea of living simply. Designed for a home, rather than investment property, it’s constructed with well built, sustainable solutions that have a smaller footprint.” he says.

“100% carbon neutral, these apartments create a healthy, comfortable sustainable home to live in. They’re very well sealed with double glazing, which is important in the Melbourne weather. The roof collects rainwater and there’s a heat pump for all the hot water. The building also has 20kw of solar power on the roof.

There’s excellent insulation to provide a practical thermal seal. We use recycled timber flooring and take things out like second bathrooms, individual laundries, basement carparks and include things that support a larger living space. It’s about building less, to give more.

This miniature masterpiece is a perfect blend of sustainable, affordable and community living.

Art Deco Cairo

The Art Deco Cairo apartments are set within the lush, green communal gardens, located in Fitzroy, Melbourne.

Embracing the philosophy of creating more with less, Architecture director Michael Roper has created a simple space with maximum flexibility to address the growing population and contemporary living needs.

Michael, who’s also the apartment’s owner, didn’t want to change its character, but rather restore it to its former glory. This fully functional abode is within a mere 23m2 and exercises minimal living.

Small-footprint living is pretty popular now, which is a good thing. But I don’t think making things smaller is going to save the day. It’s environmentally irresponsible to be knocking things down and building new all the time. We had to think about how we can re-purpose what we’ve already got.

This provides a clue to the nature of the renovation – it is more to do with how the space works than what it looks like. Greeted with an expansive view of the garden, this north facing studio is filled with natural light and high ceilings which gives it an open sense of space.

It’s clever storage solutions, including a fold-out bed and compact robes, allow this space to be quickly converted from a single room space to a dining room dinner party.

Photo credit: Paul McCredie and HOME Magazine

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