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Architect Andrew Maynard breaks the rules in the design of his combination family home and commercial office

Once a dark Victorian terrace, the combination office/family home has now been opened up at the front and back Discover this article's resources 0


By Andrew Maynard of Austin Maynard Architects

Photography by Tess Kelly

Some architects are masochists. Some architects are readily self-destructive, not in a fun adventurous way, but in a boring “I’m over-worked, exploited and unfulfilled” way. As research emerges, it appears working conditions can lead to some significant mental health issues within the profession.

Many of the issues surrounding working conditions are detailed in an essay I wrote: Work/Life/Work Balance published on Parlour, Archdaily and the AMA website. I didn’t make public at the time that the essay was a result of my own struggles with mental health. In many ways the essay was not just a rant about working conditions, as much as it was a catharsis.

“In Australia, it's estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety.” Beyond Blue


It was the end of winter and I visited my doctor to discuss my increasing levels of anxiety and stress. Whilst discussing mental health, my doctor pointed out that he experiences a sharp spike in patients seeking help during the late-winter/early-spring months, maybe due to lack of sunlight and vitamin D. He asked me what my house was like. Dark, I said.

My-House is my home. It is also the office of Austin Maynard Architects. My family and I live upstairs, whilst Austin Maynard Architects occupies the shopfront downstairs.

As part of my return to mental wellbeing I decided I would renovate my home. I would use my skill set to maximise my mental health.

I was living in a dark terrace, and I decided that I didn't just want to get more light. I decided to create the complete antithesis of the original terraces spaces.

I aimed to create a dichotomous home. The original terrace remains with all of its problems and charms, yet the new extension is a bright, elaborate greenhouse. The terrace has high ceilings and small windows. The extension has a clear Thermoclick roof. A large glass wall opens the kitchen/dining area out onto the sun drenched garden.

There is a box in the centre of the house that has a bathroom, kitchen and a utility area for Austin Maynard Architects. Above is an open platform, full of plants, that we lounge around on.

My-House is an experiment that I live in. It is a home that I dare not impose on my clients. It breaks many important rules, often not in a good way. My-House lets in sunlight where a house should not.

Whilst it is a very sustainable home, My-House is not as thermally efficient as the homes I design for others. Issues of privacy and personal comfort are often challenged in My-House.

Why yellow?

There is some interesting data regarding the emotional effects colour has on human mind. Was this the reason that we chose yellow?

No, we simply found some colourful taps and this infected us with the need to add the same colour everywhere. I asked my instagram followers what colour we should use and yellow was the absolute winner.

Has it worked?

Yes, it has worked for us. It’s not for everyone, but our strange home, with far too much sunlight, has transformed the way we feel. I love that we have at least two extra hours of daylight each evening after the neighbouring terraces have turned on their lights.

I feel liberated from the dark isolation of terrace house living. I feel connected with my climate and my environment. I feel great. I feel healthy.

First published date: 08 March 2017

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Credit List

Architect Austin Maynard Architects
Project team Andrew Maynard, Ray Dinh
Builder Sargant Constructions
Engineer R Bliem Associates
Walls Painted plywood & painted blockwork
Floor Wattyl Agricultural Enamel (custom mix) in “Homebush Gold”
Glazing Double glazed throughout
Steel framed window / door to arch Starsheet Metal
Custom perforated steel shelves Starsheet Metal
Roof Ampelite Lexan Thermoclick twin wall polycarbonate roofing (two layers)
Rooflight Velux VSE top hung motorised skylight
External awning Warema P40 pergola awning supplied by Shadefactor
Wall paint Haymes “Modesty White”
Kitchen benchtop Laminex compact laminate in Polar White finish
Oven Fisher & Paykel 60cm 9 function single built-in oven
Cooktop Fisher & Paykel 30cm 2-zone touch control induction cooktop
Rangehood Qasair Eaton concealed rangehood
Kitchen sink Franke Harmony single bowl undermount sink
Kitchen mixer Astra Walker Icon A69.08 Goose Neck Kitchen Mixer
Bathroom sink Axa Cento Mini Wall Basin 250
Basin mixer Astra Walker Icon A69.02 Basin Mixer
Shower set Astra Walker Icon A69.11 Wall Mounted Shower Set w/ Tap
Shower grate Astra Walker Halo A70.24.V3 100mm Round Floor Grate