Out the Back Sits a Flexible Studio

Words by Anthony Richardson

What do you do when your family is outgrowing your current home? You could move out to the suburbs, or get Zen Architects to design you a studio extension out the back. Studio House looks to use little land out the back to provide extra space for the clients.


Inner-suburban blocks are small, but offer a lot of potential. Typically suburbs like as Northcote use streets and laneways, with most blocks having the entrance to their home on the street and access to the rear of their block via a laneway. Traditionally this rear access laneway was used for services, however they now seem to be taking on a new life. With families growing, often the big question is, do we move out to the suburbs or can we stay where we are? Zen Architects were approached to solve the clients' need of a growing family in Northcote, and given the tight site it required a clever approach.

Zen Architects looked to design a flexible space that did not use up much land, incorporating two sleeping areas, a bathroom and living space. While no kitchen has been originally built, Studio House has been designed in such a way that the generous living space currently can be arranged into a living, dining and kitchen space down the track. A simple material palette was utilised, which included recycled bricks for downstairs and Corten cladding on the upper level. In stark contrast to the rather strong textures of the exterior, the interior uses more softer, "homely" materials such as plywood, timber floorboards and white plasterboard. Large bi-fold and sliding doors facing into the yard really opens the space up, truly making Studio House feel like an extension to the site.

Studio House has some rather simple, but clever design elements that further enhances the flexibility. Given that it faces the rear laneway, the studio has it's own private entrance which separates it from the home. An external staircase allows different users to occupy different levels of the studio, such as friends needing a place to stay the night. The clients now have a place that caters for their requirement for space, but also gives them flexibility in the future.

We arranged the shape of the building to minimise amenity impacts to the neighbours, while also controlling sunlight and views from windows, thereby creating a sense of space without sacrificing privacy.
— Zen Architects

Project Information

Project Name _ Studio House
Architects _
Zen Architects
Location _
Area _ 74m²
Project Completed _ 2017
Photographer _
 Jack Lovel
Builder _
Built by JSB

Published with BowerBird

You Might Also Like