Stories

Less is More

Curated by the Assemble Papers team, Less is More is a global survey of standout architecture and design for compact living and small spaces.

Old Yet Relentlessly Modern: Kyudōkaikan

Western influence in Japan has a fascinating and turbulent history. Architect Keith Little looks at how that complex relationship is embodied in Tokyo's Kyudōkaikan, one of the few buildings to survive the rapid economic growth of the twentieth century. Recent restoration of the complex was funded through an innovative business model, which reflects the temple's masterful blending of the old and the new.

Big Messy Courtyard: Micro Yuan’er

Joanna Bayndrian speaks with Zhang Ke of ZAO/standardarchitecture about Micro Yuan’er, a children’s library and arts centre in old Beijing. In a city that is rapidly urbanising, Micro Yuan'er has become a space for creativity and community.

Share Yaraicho

Crises are opportunities for rebuilding resilience. In the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, the need to counter social isolation with close-knit communities gave the impetus to the first purpose-built share house in Japan. Emily Wong spoke to Satoko Shinohara of Spatial Design Studio about Share Yaraicho.

5×4 Hayes Lane

5x4 Hayes Lane isn't the typical home you'd expect to find tucked in at the end of a narrow laneway in leafy East Melbourne. We step inside this pocket-sized project and speak to its owner, Ralph Alphonso, about his decision to stretch the project's small footprint of 20 square metres over four storeys, and about the challenges that arose during the construction of this extraordinary home.

Compartment Studio

At just 36 square metres, this miniscule Darlinghurst studio was the ideal challenge for interior designer (and small footprint living enthusiast) Sarah Jamieson's first apartment project. Drawing on her background in fine arts and installation, Sarah renovated the studio – housed inside a 1929 art-deco building – with the goal of maximising space while remaining sensitive to its original form.

Sawmill House

Balanced along the edge of a former gold mine quarry in Yackandandah, Victoria, Sawmill House is a poetic example of young Melbourne and Hobart-based studio Archier’s belief in open, culturally responsive design. Sawmill explores the adaptable reuse of a major by-product of the building industry – the thousands of tonnes of waste concrete that goes into landfill each year.

Backyard Bungalows: Murray Barker

Murray Barker's garage conversion is a nice note on which to wrap up our Backyard Bungalows series. To maximise his compact 18sqm space, he makes great use of the outdoor areas either side of it. Referencing Donovan Hill's D House, Murray has added windows and shutters that encourage interaction with the laneway and the life upon it—while still providing natural light and privacy when required.

Backyard Bungalows: Alex Kennedy

In our third instalment of Backyard Bungalows, we take a turn through the Carlton North cabin of Alex Kennedy. The 35sqm space was once a car garage amidst the lush garden behind her mum's house, until Alex (and friends) took to it with a hammer and plastering board, and designer Sarah Trotter of Hearth Studio helped translate Alex’s ideas around recycled materials and Japanese minimalism into built form.

The Barn, Hobart

Nearly three years ago, local graduate architects Liz Walsh and Alex Nielsen were lucky enough to happen upon a tiny early c19 gem in near original condition on the outskirts of Hobart. Our correspondent from across the Strait, Judith Abell, caught up with Liz and Alex to find out how they went about transforming its humble meterage into a compact home and place for entertainment.

Backyard Bungalows: Alice and Otis

The second in our Backyard Bungalow series is a beautifully tiny abode belonging to Schoolhouse Studios’ Alice Glenn and her pint-sized sidekick Otis, which is tucked away behind her Auntie’s place in Clifton Hill. The building itself has existed for several decades, but has been coaxed into its current (very comfortable) iteration thanks to a couple of renovations over the years.

Backyard Bungalows: Emilio and Anna

Welcome to the first in our new Less is More series devoted to backyard bungalows. Over the next few months we're going to peek over back fences and venture down garden paths to hunt out dwellings that do their bit for positive urban density. First up, we visit the ingenious Coburg home of Emilio Fuscaldo, of Nest Architects, and his partner Anna Krien.

The Purple Rose of Cairo

The 1930s Best Overend-designed Cairo Building on Nicholson Street, Fitzroy, is an example of minimal living mastery that inaugurated our This Vertical Life column in 2012, with an article that reflected on the modernist apartment building through the eyes of former residents looking back fondly.

Lightbox House

Edwards Moore's Lightbox House is a particularly ingenious rendition of a traditional single storey terrace in Carlton North, making it one of our favourite Less Is More-leaning projects on our home turf. Replacing the interior boxiness with a central landscape suffused with light is a seemingly difficult task, but one which the architect duo rose to with ease and aplomb.

Carrer Avinyo

Carrer Avinyo is a 'piano nobile' apartment in Barcelona's Barrio Gotico neighbourhood, designed by London-based practice David Kohn Architects. It is a true homage to its surrounds, referencing the triangular forms of the building and the nearby public Plaça, and at only 90m² it demonstrates exactly how to beautifully and intelligently rise to the challenge of a small space.

Law Street House

One of our favourite small footprint residential projects in Melbourne is the Law Street House, lovingly built by the hands of owner-architects, Bruno Mendes and Amy Muir of Muir Mendes. A poker-faced steel façade conceals the second storey within a cleverly-angled roof pitch. Clean and contemporary while retaining the quintessential ‘houseness’ of the site’s former Victorian worker’s cottage.

Fogo Island studios – part 4

In the fourth and final instalment of our feature on Fogo Island studios, we get to the pointy end of things with the sharp Squish Studio. A crisp, angular beacon of sorts, the Squish Studio sits on a strip of rocky coast just outside the township of Tilting. Visiting artists are invited to find momentary inspiration – tread lightly – before leaving the land just as it was before they came.

Fogo Island studios – Part 3

In the third instalment of our feature on the Fogo Island studios, Georgia Nowak takes a look at Saunders Architecture’s contemporary take on the artist garret, the sleek and sculptural Tower. Of all the Fogo Island studios, project carpenters agree that the Tower was one of the most tricky to build.

Fogo Island Studios – Part 2

Continuing our profile on Newfoundland native Todd Saunders' exquisite series of Fogo Island studios, Georgia Nowak takes to the Bridge, a secular yet spiritual work space for international artists-in-residence. Treading “ever so softly” on the landscape, the Fogo Island Arts studios become sculptural forms in the larger landscape.

Fogo Island Studios – part I

Over the next few months, we’ll bring you four instalments in a bumper feature on Saunders Architecture’s striking Fogo Island artist studios. Nestled in the windswept landscape of the remote Newfoundland region of Canada, the four studios blend Saunder’s strong contemporary design nous with a highly-localised sensitivity and respect for the land. After all, Todd Saunders is a born and bred Newfoundlander.

Transformer House

Transformer House sits behind red brick walls on a 50m2 parcel of land, the smallest sub-division in the City of Moreland. An angular, timber-clad roof encases its first floor, folding in and away from a towering transformer, from which the project takes its electrified name. With a suite of obstacles, this design challenge in utilitarian sustainability was no sweat for Brunswick's Breathe.

Potts Point apartment

Anthony Gill Architects is a small, Sydney-based firm, garnering plaudits for its "modest and, hopefully, timeless" architecture across hospitality, retail and residential projects. Potts Point apartment is a clever, compact design that considers the life of its inhabitants – the architect's own family of three – its guiding principle. Welcome to a humble, inviting and sustainable home.

Little Big House

Like most mainlanders we know, we're in love with Tasmania. Here, we take a look at one of the objects of our Apple Isle affection, 'Little Big House', designed by can-do architect couple Thomas Bailey and Megan Baynes of Hobart/Melbourne studio Room11. This small footprint, timber-clad home is an elegant take on a log cabin in the woods – one we could easily retreat to.

Born in Barcelona

Introducing Less is More, a new section presenting outstanding examples of architecture and design for compact living, as curated by Assemble Papers. Here, Quino has chosen a recent project by young Spanish practice ARQUITECTURA-G. In this renovated apartment in the historic El Born district of Barcelona, a small footprint, low budget and creative use of space combine to winning effect.