Urban Times has a piece on Canberra’s urban design and the ever expanding houses on ever shrinking blocks of land:
This leaves the home building companies two options – to design smaller homes or extra bedrooms- and the latter has prevailed. Over the last twenty years the average floor area of new houses in Australia has increased by 30% and the corresponding reduction in block size is about the same. This has created a very different urban form to the sprawling suburban layout created in the post war period and derided so compellingly by Jane Jacobs in the 1960s.
The difference is that, in the post war version of the suburb, there was at least some semblance of a useable landscape space in the back yard. Today that has gone – replaced by bedrooms and too many of them. But how do we know that there are too many bedrooms and what is wrong with a few extra spaces for the in-laws when they visit for the summer holiday season? From a sustainable city perspective there are two problems that come to mind. The first is that these empty bedrooms sit on top of landscape spaces that could be better used as gardens, lawns, play areas or a chook run, or just left alone, for shrubs, bugs and grubs to multiply. The second is that since the bubble burst in the real estate market, people are buying houses with fewer bedrooms in an effort to reduce their exposure to risk, so houses and units with too many bedrooms aren’t selling.