Healthy Design – the Key to Smaller and Smart Homes


Health issues such as natural light, fresh air and noise control have become three of the most important features for Australian home buyers and renovators, Archicentre, the building advisory service of the Australian Institute of Architects advises.

Indoor / Outdoor Alfresco – ideally flowing from an open-plan kitchen, dining and living area with bi-fold or stackable doors into a paved area or decking.

Design by Architect Cathi Colla With Governments planning policies pushing for higher density and housing affordability at an all time low, well designed smaller and smarter sustainable homes are becoming more popular.

Archicentre State Manager ACT & NSW, Ian Agnew said, for the past two decades the family home has grown in size, however, with an eye on construction and running costs for many people wanting to enter into the housing market, small has become beautiful.

Mr Agnew said, “One of the misconceptions for people to overcome is that a small home is a mean home, or is of lower quality. This is not factual as a well designed small home can maximise the use of space to deliver a pleasant, healthy living environment to suit people’s lifestyle. Not everyone wants to live in a apartment and the solution is for a smaller smarter more sustainable home.”

“A quick look around most homes usually finds that if people removed their clutter they could on average find they would have created an amount of space equivalent to a bedroom or a study.”

Archicentre is finding more people are using its design concept service as the initial planning phase of their renovation or new home design before they commence commissioning finished drawings.

“This service provides the opportunity for people to clarify their wish list for the new home and or renovation looking at the design and importantly the financial viability of the project,” Mr Agnew said.

“Key issues being raised during the design consultation include health, lifestyle and increasingly sustainability on the back of sky rocketing energy and water costs.”

Mr Agnew said, “the noise factor has also become a major consideration with double glazing and sound proofing becoming a high priority for renovators and home builders who want to ensure peace within their home environment and cut out traffic noise.”

“Basically people want to create a quiet spot within their home environment where they can relax and unwind from a busy world away from the maddening crowd.”

“Period homes with little light are being transformed through atrium type extensions which provide more natural sunlight and viewing areas of gardens or water features.”

“Internal courtyards providing private ‘green viewing areas’ from many areas of the home have also become popular.”

“The healthy home renovation trend is also extending into the types of materials used and eliminating those materials causing respiratory problems.”

Mr Agnew said that cashed up baby boomers and young professionals, conscious of fitness, are including small home gyms, spas and lap pools which are suitable for smaller housing lots and are easily maintained.

Archicentre is finding that renovators are focused on integrating landscaped outdoor areas into their informal living areas with the inclusion of walls of folding glass doors and decks.

“The quality of air and controlling of temperature of the home has also led to the return of the traditional louvre window.”

Home buyers undertaking Archicentre’s pre-purchase inspection reports on properties are also interested in the potential feasibility of the property to deliver a healthy home style renovation.

According to Archicentre, the typical renovation includes a master bedroom with an ensuite and a walk-in robe at one end of the house and at the other end, a multipurpose living area – kitchen, dining and lounge, backing on to a deck, dining area and small pergola.

Top Renovation Trends

Multi-purpose rooms are a new trend.

Kitchen and dining combined through high bench dining options.

Living and study.

Play room / study / guest bedroom.

Low-maintenance living

Paint-free architecture, earthy textures, very natural. Paved courtyards with an emphasis on drought resistance plants. Polished timber flooring is the epitome of low-maintenance.

Indoor/Outdoor Alfresco or open-air – ideally flowing from an open-plan kitchen, dining and living area with bi-fold or stackable doors into a paved area or decking.

Garden Design Multiple light-wells and courtyards around the home, bringing light and views to bedrooms and living areas.

Home Office

With the rapid spread of telecommuting with broadband cable facilities for internet access or wireless access, more people are able to conduct business affairs from home. The home office is now an essential feature for the modern business.