House A by Whispering Smith

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House A by Whispering Smith is a challenge to the status quo of housing in Perth, Australia. The recently designed sustainable apartment-house hybrid is designed specifically for small lots and utilizes commercial material in an innovative way to achieve a tight footprint and carbon neutral status. The initial brief for this project was to take a 175sqm block under Perth’s single bedroom dwelling code and turn it into an affordable and sustainable home. The resulting dwelling totals 70sqm of compact and flexible spaces that are capable of hosting a dinner party for up to 30 guests, proving that small spaces can also be big.

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House A was the first of three projects to be developed by the feminist architecture firm, Whispering Smith. The diminutive footprint of the house was designed in order to preserve the existing mature trees and the 1950s house on site, with House A being allocated to the land that had been left over.

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House A is an innovative dwelling that challenges the status quo of housing in Western Australia

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The resulting dwelling is a product of highly efficient planning and employs commercial tilt-up concrete construction methods in order to achieve a tighter and taller footprint. The project relies on craft detailing and a raw material spec to provide amenity and delightful space all within a small footprint. Throughout House A, spaces and volumes are merged to achieve simultaneous privacy and openness, which removes the need for doors and walls. When factoring in the cost of the project in conjunction with the reduced investment in the land purchase, it is apparent that this innovative design approach employed, meant the project was a financially viable one for its occupants.

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The front garden of House A makes use of the verge as a native garden and outdoor living area which has increased the amenity of both occupants of the house, the residents of the street and the local birdlife. The landscaping of the verge provides an important cultural and environmental benefit, as well as replacing the much-needed green space for the occupants, as cities densify. Other sustainable aspects of the house include an underground rain tank, solar panels, recycled materials, and an internal drying line.

The soft grey concrete planes absorb and reflect the surrounding natural landscape, and the minimal form of House A is a stark contrast to its ubiquitous bricks and tiles of the neighbouring properties. During the evenings, House A almost disappears into the late afternoon light, while subtly reflecting the warm colours of the sunsets.

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