The Fence

Different kind of toy house

Building Case Study from Big River Group

Family dream home hides giant toy box under its floors.

We’ve all experienced the pain of a rogue Lego brick, but this family dream home has turned gravity into a parent’s ally with a floor designed to swallow mess.

Named Mills House, the Melbourne property was revamped to create more light and expand the storage space to hide the endless ‘stuff’ that occupies a busy home with children.

The architects, Austin Maynard Architects, have more than doubled the size of the property – transforming it from a single-storey building to include a new two-storey extension at the back, and an open-plan layout that offers plenty of storage without compromising on space.

“Everyone wants an abundance of storage. Terrace homes are roughly six metres wide,” said director Mark Austin. “After adding walls, corridors, stairs, heating panels and cupboards, we are left with very little width for living space.”

Rather than building cupboards along the walls, the storage is instead integrated into the floor of the family’s new living room – gaining almost one metre of space back into the width of the terraced home.

Stuart McGonagle, national flooring manager of Big River Group, who supplied the timber for the unique design, added, “you can really make the most out of a small interior by creating custom joinery units that also act as furniture.

“This requires a very high density plywood. For this project, we used Big River F22 ArmourPanel – one of the strongest types available in the world. This premium quality timber has allowed for the storage unit here to double up as both seats and flooring, without looking out of place in a home thanks to its decorative finish.”

At 0.45m deep – the same as the average chair height – the Spotted Gum floor panels can also be removed to provide instant seating around a sunken living room area, as well as be used as a play space to crawl around in.

The construction method to get this exceptional strength wood involves bonding five layers of the Australian hardwood sheets in a cross-ply manufacturing process, ensuring that the final result is strong, reliable and safe for families to use.

The innovative design makes it easy to simply sweep toys straight out of sight (and feet), and prompted a new name for the building: ‘the Toy Management House’.

Winner of the House Alteration and Addition category at the 2016 National Architecture Awards, as well as the John and Phyllis Murphy Award and the Interior Architecture Award at the 2016 Victorian Architecture Awards, the Toy Management House is a lesson in practical design, clean lines and sustainability.

Images by Peter Bennetts.

This story was first published in The Fence magazine.

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