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The growing population and a shortage of land in our large urban centres is prompting many people to rethink the Great Australian Dream. Rather than a large home on a quarter acre block, architects are rising to the challenge to help more people live big in small spaces.

The potential of a modest, unconventional plot at the rear of Melbourne’s 200 Collins Street was recently put to the test as part of the MINI LIVING – INVERT event.  A collaboration between Green magazine, MINI and City of Melbourne, the event focused on the importance of sustainable, small-scale architecture.

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A challenge was put to 13 leading and emerging architects from Australia and New Zealand to submit plans and a 1:20 scale model to demonstrate how the 6 x 10 metre site could accommodate a sustainable home for a young family of four.

The architects presented their designs during a 5-day exhibition in October, which was held in a glass house erected on the Collin’s Street site. We were thrilled to be part of the event by supplying our Luxe Pendants in white. Just like the site itself, they were modest in size to complement the glasshouse and their simple white colour created a beautiful contrast to the lush greenery that surrounded the exhibits.

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We were so impressed with the way each architect developed a unique, creative response to the brief. The only essential ingredient was that the designs must also include some kind of garden vegetation.

Austin Maynard Architects designed a multi-generational space that could adapt as a family grows. Made from a series of pre-fabricated modules, the home could expand with new additions to the family and contract for empty nesters.

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Wolveridge Architects’ design also caught our eye. They drew on research into vertical living in Japan and Vietnam and managed to evoke the quarter-acre-block experience within a high-density context by maximising volume, light and passive solar shading.

It was inspiring to see the small-scale design possibilities presented at the MINI LIVING – INVERT event. It proved that the challenge of high-density city living can be solved through clever, sustainable design.