Uncompromising and Considered – The Brook by Small and Small Projects

Words by Bronwyn Marshall
Architecture by Small
Photography by Derek Swalwell
Build by Aaron Shields
Interior Design by Small
Architecture Small Projects
Interior Design Small Projects
The Brook By Small And Small Projects Project Feature The Local Project Image 03

Born from identifying a gap in the current pre-fabrication residential offering, The Brook is its own story of small scale considered living, where quality and detailing prevails the unnecessary. Small and Small Projects combine to propose a completely off-grid solution that can be transported to site, with a focus on reducing the environmental impact without compromise.

Some of the best ideas and innovations come from solving solutions we experience individually and wanting to do better with what we know. Drawing from their own backgrounds in carpentry and design, Small and Small Projects combined to create an off-grid home that could be prefabricated while not taking away from familiar elements. The focus was to combine quality and design over sheer volume – a comment on the current residential solution to constantly build bigger yet not necessarily with a better resolve. From this frustration, the team worked to focus their skills to create a new form of transportable building as a means to have less of a disturbance to site and to reduce the overall time needed for construction. The result is a unique approach that uses natural materials and is as responsive as possible to context.

The focus was to combine quality and design over sheer volume – a comment on the current residential solution to constantly build bigger yet not necessarily with a better resolve.

The Brook occupies a mere 30 square metres footprint, tightly layering in functionality over two levels. The lofted bedroom and study level take up half of the floor space below, with a balustrade that allows for a continuation of visual access from above. The double height space below then expands the feeling of being within such a small volume, perceptively increasing comfort as glazing connects beyond the interior. Key to the height sees the integrated engineering of a mechanical roof section that can be lowered to allow for transport and, through a manually operated cast iron wheel, can be opened and expanded again on site. This system becomes a key point of difference from other previous models, expanding the home’s potential.

Integrating a sense of luxury was also important to the story of The Brook; select materiality, light and the internal volumes themselves all play key roles in achieving this. Located in Rosebrook, the prototype takes in the generous views of the surrounding site whilst maintaining a protective sense of enclosure for residents and guests. Operable eaves allow control of incoming sunlight and to abate the summer sun as needed. Materiality also had to pass a three-point test of cost, quality and environmental impact, including the need for maintenance over time. The integrated solar, rainwater, composting, natural ventilation and battery storage then allows the function of the everyday to be supported and opens up positioning locations.

Integrating a sense of luxury was also important to the story of The Brook; select materiality, light and the internal volumes themselves all play key roles in achieving this.

Since The Brook, both designers Aaron Shields and Nick Lane have continued their design journeys through their respective businesses. Aaron formed Small Projects in 2021 with partners Greg and Luke, designing and manufacturing small architect designed, transportable buildings for the Australian market, with a focus on quality, sustainability as well as the continued use of beautiful, recycled materials. As of 2021, the plans of The Brook and other small house designs will be available for purchase from Nick Lane’s Small.

Each element of The Brook ensures construction, transport and comfort all act as an extension of the original principles of the team. The result sees the emergence of a refined and considered home that deliberately avoids the unnecessary.