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Melbourne Studio Competes in Internal Design Challenge to Develop Sustainable, Single-Family Home Solution

May 31, 2018

Six design teams from the Melbourne studio competed in an internal design contest, dubbed the “Volume Builders Challenge,” that tackled the concept of a single-family home within the coastal capital’s urban context. The teams were given a brief that asked them to rethink the current concept and integrate affordable, sustainable, and community-oriented factors. The basic outline could be reconsidered if the team believed there was a good reason to do so, such as eliminating car parking all together or creating a master plan for an urban environment as long as a single-family residence as a part of the proposal as well.

The winning project is “In.Scape,” a flexible modular housing design with an affordable entry market and green space. The design is by a group comprised of Wesley Baigent, Tristan Da Roza, and Caitlin Murray. According to their submission, the current model for single-family living is stagnant in that it lacks amenities, affordability, and immobility. With all of these factors in mind, the team touched on several architectural and urban planning prototypes already proven to be successful, such as Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena’s open source public housing designs, to allow for a more collective plan that was flexible in both its design and price. Such features include community gardens, relocating car parking, variable plot sizes, passive design principles, and the ability to upscale or downscale easily.

Brooke Galloway


The other five teams included “[Sky-City]” by Kenneth Chou, “M2” by Michael Groppo, “T.A.J Mahal” by Tom Leyden, John Young, and Ali Tehami, “Reconnect the Disconnect” by Robbie Rosamilia, Brittany Pearce, and Jess Dootjes, and “VOLUME X COMMUNITY” by Rimond Kachab, Petar Klenkoski, and Helen Diao.

“With house prices up, housing in demand and greater population driving new suburbs, I was interested in how architects could help change the tide and create a cost-effective home that is considered, sustainable and supports the community," Associate Jess Dootjes, who initiated and organized the competition, said. Earlier this year, the Victorian government launched a pilot program to encourage large-scale builders and land developers to "go green" with net-zero residences. Jess said making sustainable homes available to more Victorians was an initiative to which architects could add greater value.

The designs were presented in Pecha Kutcha-style proposals to a three-person panel of local experts including Dan Brady, Design Manager at government housing agency Development Victoria; Linda Cheng, Editor at Australian architecture publication ArchitectureAU; and Dave Martin, founder of Small Giants Development Group.

Brooke Galloway
Brooke Galloway


The following information is the brief for the Volume Builders Competition.

Occupiers: A four-person family or group and covered parking for one car 

House size: No greater than 200 square meters

Land size: No greater than 300 square meters 

Budget: AUD $1,000 per square meters 

Site and orientation: None specified


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