affordable homes need a great living room and garden officer woods
Well designed and interconnected living rooms and gardens can create homes that are affordable to create and run. Project: Steelhouse. Photography: Luke Carter Wilton.
  • The best rooms in a home are typically the living room and garden.
  • The best living rooms are also directly connected to a garden
  • Current challenges include larger homes on smaller blocks, leaving little room for gardens.

A series of affordable housing thoughts and ideas by Perth’s leading architects continues with this piece by Trent Woods from Officer Woods Architects.

We aim to design at least one ‘good room’ in a house – the living room, the one we spend our waking hours in, the one we live in.

The best living rooms are also directly connected to a garden which provides fresh air, sunshine, warmth, and a connection to nature. It is another space to live in, indeed, a ‘second living room’ just outside.

connected living rooms and gardens make for affordable homes officer woods
The living room and garden are the two ‘good rooms’ in a house. Project: Steelhouse. Photography: Luke Carter Wilton.

In the houses we design, we consider the garden the second good room.

It is also the most affordable space in a new home – the one you don’t pay for because it is basically unimproved block value.

The garden is the ‘room’ you project yourself onto and tend to, being gradually curated and taken care of over time. It also adds value to your home.

The modern challenge for gardens

The dilemma we find ourselves in is that houses are getting larger and blocks of land are getting smaller.

The cheapest and most affordable room, the garden, is shrinking and being displaced by more house and more cost.

Gardens have been reduced to a small paved and roofed alfresco with little appeal or prospect.

In the best houses, the living room and garden, are totally connected. They flow into each other and are used as extensions of each other.

More importantly, they both perform better when they are connected.

Living rooms are enhanced when they are naturally lit, ventilated, and warmed by the sun. They are also cheaper to live in, using less energy for heating, cooling, and lighting.

Gardens and living rooms need to be a decent size to be functional and they need to be in the right place, facing the right direction. Both thrive in the sun and need good orientation for this to happen.

Luckily, every block of land has access to northern orientation. However, this requires design effort, and greater value needs to be placed on our living rooms and gardens than on our cars.

australian affordable homes have well designed and connected gardens and living rooms officer woods
The living room and garden form a symbiotic relationship that the recently deferred State Planning Policy 7.3 for residential dwellings understood. Project: Steelhouse. Photography: Luke Carter Wilton.

The recently deferred State Planning Policy 7.3 for residential dwellings understood these two good rooms and their inseparable relationship. It had provisions to ensure they were connected, functional, and sunny.

Those provisions would have made our homes more sustainable and healthier, as well as more affordable to build and occupy.

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