In 2016, architect Andrew Maynard of Austin Maynard Architects (AMA) decided to transform the way he and his team live and work. At the end of winter, Maynard visited a doctor about his increasing levels of stress and anxiety. The doctor’s suggestion was that he get more vitamin D to improve his mental health. Maynard decided to radically renovate his dark, Victorian-style terrace house in Melbourne, and flood it with therapeutic sunshine.
Together with his team at AMA, he added a 184-square-foot, sun-saturated greenhouse extension to the existing 364-square-foot built-in area of the house. The result is "My-House," Maynard’s personal residence and headquarters for his practice. The office occupies the front ground level space, while Maynard and his family live on the upper level of the house. Between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on the weekends, the kitchen, dining, and garden become a communal space shared between Maynard’s family members and the AMA team.
While the interiors of the original house have high ceilings and small windows, the greenhouse extension was constructed with a clear Thermoclick roof, which is shaded with a large blue external blind on the hottest of summer days. In the kitchen-dining area is a large glass wall, which opens out onto the bright sunny garden.
In the center of the house is a box, where the office's bathroom, kitchen, and utility area is located. Above the box is an open platform with plenty of plants where Maynard’s family and the AMA team can relax and chat over a cup of tea.
Though glass has low-thermal performance, the Thermoclick roof proved to be more energy efficient than AMA had expected, and interior temperatures remain relatively stable and comfortable during both winter and summer. A skylight installed high in the ceiling acts as passive ventilation, releasing excess heat in the warmer months.
The highly sustainable My-House is not only psychologically healthy and energizing, but it also has a very small footprint, which makes it good for the planet. Every square foot of space is optimized for multiple functions that cater to both work and domestic use. The choice of bright yellow for the floors and stairs was a decision the team made with the help of their Instagram followers, who picked yellow as the hands-down winner.
Not only does My-House lift the moods of those who use it, but it also sets the bar for a new home office prototype that other creative teams can look to for inspiration when seeking out a refreshed work/life balance.