Moving House

Date: 1988-89

Location: Sydney

Project status: Built 1989



The Australian manufacturer Monier Bricks held a national architectural competition in 1988. The brief called for the design of a house which expressed "Australia’s unique relationship with the Great Outdoors". The site was a semi-rural property on the outskirts of Perth.


Research focused on historical situations where European settlers had struggled to master the spaces between settlements and compensated for this lack of control by inventing unusual forms of housing. One example was the mobile prisons drawn by convict labour on the way to breaking-in pastoral country for large landowners. Another occurred in Melbourne’s early history where land conflicts were often resolved by building houses on wheels to assuage the likelihood of incorrectly surveyed property boundaries.


My entry Moving House positioned the brief within these struggles for spatial security and possession. The design distributed built elements across the central area of the site suggesting passing shadows over the land. Mobile sentry boxes stood guard at each corner, on the lookout for any kind of social or cultural difference, or subversive force. 


When the opportunity arose to design a wedding present for good friends, I was able to develop this line of thinking into built form. It seemed obvious that a secure container for their prized possessions should also be on wheels. The jewellery box’s scale is deliberately ambiguous: comfortable with the intimate environment of a dressing table, as well as the massive outer walls of a city, the secret drawer suggests a Trojan Horse in the waiting…



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