Text description provided by the architects. Some architects are masochists. Some architects are readily self-destructive, not in a fun adventurous way, but in a boring “I’m over-worked, exploited and unfulfilled” way. As research emerges, it appears working conditions can lead to some significant mental health issues within the profession.
Many of the issues surrounding working conditions are detailed in the (surprisingly popular) essay I wrote: Work/Life/Work Balance published on Parlour, Archdaily and the AMA website. I didn’t make public at the time that the essay was a result of my own struggles with mental health. In many ways the essay was not just a rant about working conditions, as much as it was a catharsis.
“In Australia, it's estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety.” Beyond Blue
It was the end of winter and I visited my doctor to discuss my increasing levels of anxiety and stress. Whilst discussing mental health, my doctor pointed out that he experiences a sharp spike in patients seeking help during the late-winter/early-spring months, maybe due to lack of sunlight and vitamin D. He asked me what my house was like. Dark, I said.
My-House is my home. It is also the office of Austin Maynard Architects. My family and I live upstairs, whilst Austin Maynard Architects occupies the shopfront downstairs.
As part of my return to mental wellbeing I decided I would renovate my home. I would use my skill set to maximise my mental health. I was living in a dark terrace, and I decided that I didn't just want to get more light. I decided to create the complete antithesis of the original terraces spaces. I aimed to create a dichotomous home. The original terrace remains with all of its problems and charms, yet the new extension is a bright, elaborate greenhouse. The terrace has high ceilings and small windows. The extension has a clear Thermoclick roof. A large glass wall opens the kitchen/dining area out onto the sun drenched garden. There is a box in the centre of the house that has a bathroom, kitchen and a utility area for Austin Maynard Architects. Above is an open platform, full of plants, that we lounge around on.
My-House is an experiment that I live in. It is a home that I dare not impose on my clients. It breaks many important rules, often not in a good way. My-House lets in sunlight where a house should not. Whilst it is a very sustainable home, My-House is not as thermally efficient as the homes I design for others. Issues of privacy and personal comfort are often challenged in My-House. It is for these reasons that my family and I also love it.