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Most traditional modern urban homes are built to occupy the majority of their site with a focus on maximizing indoor living space. This often results in a home which sits very close to the allowable setback from the street-facing boundary line, yet is often designed as a closed-off compound, where interaction from the neighbourhood is discouraged. Pop Up House, designed by FIGR, is a welcome challenge to this notion with a flowing outside/inside eco friendly home design that invites conversations and connections between the home owners and their neighbours.

The architects and their clients wanted to open their front yard up, so they began by elevating the house, creating a space below which acts as a carport, entertaining area, and extension to the workshop.

Eco friendly home with mechanical shutters open and recycled brick pavers
Rear view of eco friendly home with white timber slatted facade

Although only 215 m2 in size, the home features everything a family needs in the form of living, work, play, and sleep spaces. Some of these activities have been allowed to overlap to help achieve a small footprint. For thermal efficiency, the house is lined with high-quality insulation in the walls, roof, and floors. Generous double-glazed windows framed in thermally-broken timber frames bathe the home in natural light while limiting draughts, to further reduce energy costs. Custom-fabricated mechanical screens are used to control the amount of light and heat that enters through the large windows. Inside, the walls are predominantly created from white painted weatherboards with accents of silvertop ash cladding.

Courtyard with recycled brick pavers and timber walls
Loungeroom and entertaining area with timber clad ceiling

Great consideration went into designing functional and multi-purpose outdoor spaces with a focus on gardens full of native vegetation woven throughout the property. The large-scale windows capture views of greenery as you move throughout the home. An outdoor terrace in the centre of the home includes a large play net for the kids, which is suspended above the ground floor, that also allows light to filter to the courtyard area below. This innovative play area draws in light to surrounding internal spaces which would otherwise have been shaded and drab. It also adds to the home’s fun-filled and easy going charm. Also creatively designed is a green wedge at the front of the home that provides storage for bikes and home systems as well as a water retention system. Buried in the yard in front of the wedge is a 5,000 litre water tank to harvest rainwater, used to flush toilets and for garden irrigation.

Street view of home with white timber panelling
Birch plywood kitchen with timber flooring

The eco friendly home incorporated thoughtful and sustainable products from top to bottom. The roof is clad with Surfmist Colorbond, which is light in colour, selected to reduce heat absorption inside the home while also helping to reduce any potential heat island effect in the neighbourhood. Urban heat islands occur when towns and cities replace natural land cover with dense concentrations of footpaths, buildings and other solid surfaces which absorb and retain heat. These built up areas are typically hotter than surrounding, less developed areas.

Outdoor entertaining area with timber lined ceiling
Person standing on suspended netted play area

The angled form of the roof was designed to allow for optimal placement of solar panels which power the home.

Locally sourced materials, fittings and trades were used where possible to further add to the sustainability credentials of the family home. Also important was selecting materials which were durable, therefore minimizing any maintenance required – such as Silvertop Ash ship lap cladding, Cemintal Barestone, concrete blockwork and brick pavers. Inside sustainable materials such as Tasmanian oak flooring and Tretford carpet were selected.

Want to read about more inspiring homes like this? Check out our stories about sustainable architecture.

Birch plywood kitchen with green cupboards
Close up of kitchen with birch plywood and green with barstools
Bedroom with operable timber screens open

Sustainability specs:
– Solar PV array
– 5,000 rainwater collection tank used for toilets and garden irrigation
– Locally sourced materials, fittings and trades used where possible
– Light coloured metal roof sheeting to minimize solar gain
– Native gardens
– Strong connection between indoors and out
– High-quality insulation in the walls, roof, and floors
– Double-glazed windows framed in thermally-broken timber frames
– Mechanical screens control light and heat entering the home
Sustainable materials: Tasmanian oak flooring, Tretford carpet
– Robust, low maintenance materials
– Multi-purpose space under the house makes efficient use of the home’s footprint. No wasted or single use spaces
– Timber used both inside and out
– Eco friendly home

Loungeroom with timber clad ceiling
Courtyard with recycled brick pavers
Internal courtyard with suspended netting
Recycled brick pavers with timber lined courtyard roof
Close up of green birch plywood and black joinery
From the architect:

When presented from the street the elevation is an extruded silhouette which is a sympathetic nod to the familiar roof forms of the surrounding vernacular. The upper volume of the building hovers above a landscaped mount that creates the beginning of a journey into the house. Flanked by existing neighbouring brick walls, that become internal edges which establish a dialogue between old and new.

Images courtesy of FIGR. Photography by Tom Blatchford

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