In Fitzroy North, an all-female architecture team crafts a “family home of the future” that champions great design.
Proving that great architecture can—and should—be accessible, Melbourne-based Mani Architecture completed a unique family home that’s purpose-built for the housing market. It’s a rarity in Australia, where architect-designed homes make up less than 10% of residential properties.
"Architecture should not be seen as a luxury service," says Mani Architecture founder Sara Tonini. "We want to change this stigma, we want to educate, we want to teach, and we want to showcase the importance of well-designed and well-executed spaces."
Acting as the client, Tonini’s team pitched the property concept to developers and, after securing three silent investors, purchased a lot in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy North. While the site’s existing dwelling was far too damaged to save, the architects kept the same building footprint for their new-build. They approached the project as "a real-life test case for what good design can achieve, even on a budget."
Designed over the course of a year, One MANI House was created in close collaboration with local artisans and built with locally sourced, durable, and cost-effective materials.
In addition to bold contemporary design elements, the two-story house emphasizes adaptability. It shows how a well-designed home can transform to serve a variety of homeowners—from empty nesters to multigenerational households.
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"This project was all about collaborating with other suppliers, makers, etc," says Tonini, who advocates supporting local creatives and a "handmade" approach. "The biggest challenge was getting people on board, as it was the first time anyone had heard of this type of project."
After 14 months of construction, Tonini’s team occupied the home and hosted home tours for months before putting the home on the market, where it received considerable attention for its one-of-a-kind design and detailed craftsmanship. The property was purchased by a young family for an undisclosed amount.
"We wanted to create a home that pushed the boundaries—a home that had everything within a small footprint—to show people the value of good, thought-out design," explains Tonini. "This home shows the power and value that comes by working with an architect. It’s adaptable, space-saving design, rounded out with bold surprises."
The architects currently have a smaller version of the One MANI House in the works for 2020, and they are in talks to design a Two MANI House.