The Peak, Melbourne

Since the 1950’s Australia’s average free-standing house size has more than doubled, yet the number of occupants in the average home has halved. In fact, Australians are building the second-biggest freestanding houses in the world behind the US at an average of 230.8 square metres.

But one new Melbourne business is proving that bigger is not always better while also tackling the big issues of housing affordability, youth homelessness and environmental sustainability.

And Responsible Wood is playing its part to guarantee the sustainability of this new product with certified timber at the fore.

The idea began with a cubby house design competition held by Kids Under Cover in 2017 which was won by international architects Grimshaw. From this collaboration Nest’d™ was born – a new social enterprise which sells affordable and sustainable prefabricated “tiny homes”. Launched in 2018, by Kids Under Cover, 100% of the profit of every home sold is directed to the charity’s work helping prevent youth homelessness.

Nest’d™ General Manager, Kieran Callan explains how sales of the tiny house give back to the community; “A Kids Under Cover studio built in the backyards and gardens of family homes actively helps prevent youth homelessness by easing the pressures on families. Nestd™ is the evolution of this innovation. We are delighted to be working with world-leading architects, Grimshaw, to deliver a sustainable, stylish and affordable compact home which also invests in the lives of young people.”

Nest’d offers three home designs and at 32sq m the top of the range is The Peak. While also being the largest, it offers sophisticated interior planning including built-in kitchen, seating areas, bed and bathroom with a contemporary exterior which suits a range of lifestyles. At only $139,000 it can be delivered flat-packed and constructed in two weeks. The Peak is being promoted as ideal for teenage retreats, granny flats, home offices, yoga studios, Airbnb rentals or first homes for people otherwise priced out of the market.

Grimshaw architect Matthew Hutton describes how The Peak offers so much in so little space; “The kitchen, bathroom, laundry, bedroom and couch spaces are integrated into one cube-shaped pod, envisaged as a beautifully detailed piece of joinery.”

Timber is central to the design of The Peak and is used extensively. Its structure comprises of sustainably sourced Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) with some metal external wall cladding while the angle of the roof allows for optimal photovoltaic performance.

Natural timber finishes within the interior are enhanced by cleverly placed recessed lighting, and provide a welcoming atmosphere while maximising the sense of space.

Expertise in prefabricated dwellings that are as sustainable as they are compact were brought to the project team by ARKit who specialise in prefabricated dwellings that are popular as beach retreats and ideal for inner-city sites with a very small footprint.

ARKit has a particular emphasis on sustainable design and construction. This focus is inherent in their design process, construction techniques and our building materials. It was agreed by them team that the material that would tick all the requisite boxes for The Peak was timber, specifically LVL.

When it came to specifying the LVL for The Peak project, the team turned to Wesbeam Tall Timber Building Systems Australia’s only local producer of LVL. The timber is sourced from Responsible Wood certified plantation forests and processed in Western Australia.

Wesbeam’s Manager of Tall Timber Building Systems is David Bylund and he outlines why this product is well-suited to any project with a sustainability focus: “Wesbeam LVL is manufactured from the best-quality Australian plantation timber to ensure peak performance, strength and reliability. We also make sure the timber we use is harvested from sustainably-managed forest resources which is why all our LVL products come with full Responsible Wood (RW) Chain of Custody Certification.”

Affordable, sustainable, relocatable and helping to prevent youth homelessness, The Peak is the perfect example of how a tiny home can tap into a growing desire for conscientious living and make a very big difference.