real! + ideal?
architects, unlike artists, are briefed by clients. for small to medium practices these clients overwhelmingly require freestanding houses. for 120 years the freestanding home has been the ‘ne plus ultra’ in australia.

contrary to popular myth, architects gave designed the majority of them over that time. not just the 5% glamour homes that fill glossy publications. but almost every display home, project house, alts + adds, and holiday house. the architects may not always be prominent, or contemporary, but they are there, and were in canberra 85 years ago. this self-contained house is a talisman for all that came later.

each generation has added to the freestanding home oeuvre: they got bigger post WWII, rooms for cars added in the 70’s, the eighties brought post modern homes (po-mo-ho), outdoor rooms and landscape in the 90’s, media room + home gym luxury in the noughties, and now we have green bling. around the world australian architecture is seen predominantly as glamorous houses. ‘sic momentum requirt circumspice’ as sir christopher wren said.

australia’s freestanding homes are now world-beaters:

  • 80% freestanding dwellings is the highest proportion anywhere;
  • at an average 251 sqm they are the largest houses in the world;
  • 33% are without roof insulation, they are the worst climate adapted;
  • and at 12 times average earnings they are the most unaffordable.

the freestanding house is ideal for australian clients and architects, but not ideal for the city of the future.