Adam Haddow, director of Sydney-based architecture and urban design studio SJB, said that Australians are increasingly trading environmental and financial costs of space for the social, monetary and ethical gains of compact living.
Quoted in the McGrath Report 2019, Mr Haddow said that affordability concerns have prompted an overhaul of planning laws, allowing for diversity to emerge as the new housing design buzzword.
“In the past, we had this fixed idea of what you got in a house: three bedrooms, backyard, maybe a pool,” the director said.
“That hasn’t gone away, but many people are realising they don’t need lawns to mow and four bedrooms. You used to need a desk and possibly an office; now you need a kitchen bench the right height for your laptop or a sunny courtyard with connectivity.
“These changes are dialling down in home design because we don’t need to create a space for study or work. It is more about creating spaces where people want to live.”
Here are Mr Haddow’s six hottest trends in urban residential design:
1. Repurposed living
When Australia embraced open-plan living at the start of the 21st century, there were inevitable casualties, the director continued.
“Goodbye formal dining and lounge rooms. Also over is home designers’ short-lived dalliance with the media room.
“Reﬂecting the shrinking size of Australian households, with couple-only households due to outnumber couples with children by 2030, dwellings will become more ﬂexible with moveable walls allowing room conversions and adaptable furniture serving as room dividers.”
2. Smaller kitchens
Mr Haddow said that the popularity of home-delivered meals, along with our rising café and restaurant culture, has changed how Aussies think about kitchens.
“Food and drink delivery apps have exploded, with Australians spending $2.6 billion annually. We’re also eating out more. With 85,000 cafés, restaurants and takeaway food outlets, the average domestic household is spending $94 per week eating out two to three times per week.”
He said that kitchens have evolved from utility rooms to social and entertaining spaces.
“Prepping kitchens and butlers’ pantries are on-trend in new family home design.
“These small private spaces enable home chefs to get messy, away from guests’ eyes and without detracting from their home’s minimalist designer kitchens.”
3. Shared spaces
Modern developments are incorporating shared rooms such as laundries and yoga studios to suit changing lifestyles and add value and function to available space, according to Mr Haddow.
“Shared rooms arguably provide better value to young buyers who would rather pay less for a smaller crash pad that comes with a selection of outdoor areas where they can relax and entertain friends.
“Rooftops are becoming glamorous entertaining spaces with landscaped gardens, state-of-the-art barbecue facilities, café-style dining areas and chill-out zones.”
4. Garage parking
Our car-loving culture is rapidly changing, Mr Haddow added, with 3.1 million active Uber users and 100,000 GoGet members nationally.
“These share services, along with expanding public transport, environmental awareness and dedicated bicycle lanes, are reducing the need for parking on title,” the director said.
“What we are seeing is movement from majority to minority car ownership in the not too distant future. People are totally OK with using the one shared car on the street.”
5. Blue sky thinking
Mr Haddow said that textured housing exteriors made from recycled natural or industrial material like rammed earth, stone and bottle bricks are “in vogue”.
“Architects are also departing from the traditional square shape, with curvy facades maximising the illusion of space and spherical structures emulating igloos oﬀering bolstered thermal efficiency.”
Mr Haddow also said that fifth wall feature ceilings with stencil art and complex imagery are becoming popular with “arty” home makers.
“All the rage when Michelangelo was painting churches in the 16th century and Marie Antoinette was decorating ceilings with mirrors in the 18th century. Today, some owners and designers are resurrecting it, realising that ceilings are a blank canvas for injecting personality and texture into a home.”
6. Green homes
Sustainability is becoming a major inﬂuence on home design, Mr Haddow said.
“Record levels of solar use and rising interest in battery power have resulted in the equivalent of 8.28 million households using renewable energy in 2017,” the director added.
“Savvy developers and home owners are fitting and retro-fitting properties to boost their appeal to an increasingly eco-conscious buyer pool.
“Low-cost improvements include draught sealing, insulation, low-ﬂow showerheads and taps, window shading and low-wattage lighting.”