On many days, it feels like every family in suburban Australia is renovating their house, or more specifically, commissioning a stellar backyard addition that transforms the existing dwelling in beautiful, surprising ways. According to Melbourne-based architect Andrew Maynard, a veteran of these sorts of projects, 60 percent of his studio's projects are now extensions. In a 2009 interview with Sanctuary Magazine, an Australian sustainable home-design publication, Maynard said Aussies are "addicted to renovations and extensions." And judging by the frequency at which these backyard additions are popping up Down Under, it seems that particular addiction has not subsided.
In a recent email exchange with Maynard, he offered a couple reasons for why Australia's extension game is so strong. "Many of the areas I work in have heritage controls overlaying them," he writes. "This means that full demolition is rarely an option." Maynard also credits the phenomenon to the "hands-on" culture in Australia, meaning homeowners are often thinking about their homes and "endlessly tinkering" with the structures as their needs change over time. All this has led to some very intriguing designs:
The VillageAll photos by Peter Bennetts via Andrew Maynard Architects
When tasked with extending a one-story house in Alphington, Australia, to bring together "community, art, and nature," Andrew Maynard Architects took advantage of the property's large yard: instead of creating tacking on one monolithic block, he designed a series of gabled volumes that resemble a tiny village. These new backyard structures add a kitchen, dining space, master bedroom, submerged library, and a two-story studio with a "net floor" play area.
The NurseryAll photos by Emma Cross via Dezeen
Australian firm Mihaly Slocome recently added a timber nursery to a Melbourne home it completed almost ten years ago. The design of the new 635-square-foot "Kids Pod," which includes a bedroom, playroom, and bathroom, takes after the wooden planters in the garden. It also features a facade of hinged wooden shutters that, according to Dezeen, "fold up during the day to create awnings for the window, while dots of light shine through the openings at night."
The "Shipping Container"All photos by Derek Swalwell via
This petite late-Victorian cottage in Sandringham, Australia, got its modern twist by way of a shipping container-inspired annex. The extension, completed by Melbourne-based firm Techné Architecture added new bedrooms, along with an open-plan living area that's immediately connected to the rear garden.
The Pool HouseAll photos by James Knowler via Dwell
The Victorian facade of this 1880 bungalow in Adelaide, Australia, belies the exciting makeover in back. With the help of Australian firm Troppo Architects, the home got a two-story extension that transformed the rear of the house into a breezy, totally pool party-ready sanctuary.
The Social ButterflyAll photos by Nic Granleese via Oof! Architecture
With a white-painted-brick facade that spells out the greeting "hello" in giant, capital letters, the extension for this Victorian house in Melbourne turns it into the friendliest building in town. Completed by Australian studio Oof! Architecture, the addition converted a former shop space into a private residence and studio.
The CafeAll photos by Peter Bennetts via
Designed by Melbourne studio Make Architecture, the extension for this house in St. Kilda, Australia, is supposed to function more like a local café than a private home. The rear's new two-story gabled structure, which features a decorative timber screen, opens up the kitchen/dining space to the backyard garden.
The RuinPhotos by Peter Bennetts and Tess Kelly via ArchDaily
When the owners of this modest weatherboard home in Seddon, Australia, asked for an addition that was "ridiculously inside-out," local firm Andrew Maynard Architects responded with an unfinished steel frame "extension" that was open to the elements. The exposed part of the house contains an al fresco bathtub, a music studio, and a grassy deck that starts where the dining room ends.