Studio 26

Just a house...and maybe a garden

Colby Vexler

This studio is available to students enrolled in ABPL90142 Studio C, ABPL90143 Studio D, and ABPL90115 Studio E.

Studio Description

This is about nothing more than what it is, Just a House…and Maybe a Garden.

We don’t need a narrative, just a sensibility…or an attitude at the very least.

This is because contemporary houses are peculiar in the most ordinary way. Without metaphor or extra-disciplinary conceptualisation, they are not vacant of ambition but already occupied by a compromise with reality. Here we observe, remark and speculate on the obvious and overlooked aspects of a well known typology.

In doing so, we take the position that houses are no longer merely a matter of shelter—we know this—as we have been anxiously conditioned by the recent history of architectural discourse. And yet while the discursive space around the house has matured, their physical production is still perplexed by an overarching obligation to beauty, utility and durability. Houses are just buildings after all.

While we try to figure things out we do not claim to propose solutions because we don’t see problems but the possibility to re-understand things.

Following on from M.Arch Studio Housing Home and Contents and A Soft Focus on Domestic Things (co-led with Pricilla Heung between 2017-2021) Just a House…and Maybe a Garden continues to re-consider acts of domestication, the house as a typological concern and its relation to the domestic garden.

Studio Outcomes

The work produced here will not offer housing solutions, perpetuate “ideal living” fantasies or re-affirm unsubstantiated “practical” tropes about contemporary houses.

Instead, this studio draws heavily from perceptual interpretations of notable precedent houses to encourage genuinely considered observations, profound moments of understanding, and to generate the production of subtle architectural outcomes. With restraint, austerity and sincerity, students will think fast and move carefully to explore the contemporary phenomena that construct and challenge residential architecture.

The plan, elevation and render are not things to be taken lightly. Neither are terms such as rooms, corridors, patios or verandas. Stuff, things and furniture are never merely decorative or indicative of use, but work much harder to be critical of the assemblage they belong to…same goes for soil, rocks, weeds and trees. In doing so, we do not populate and program but plan, arrange, assemble and re-consider as we try to produce well-considered houses and gardens.

*Note: this studio will strictly operate through group work. It is expected that students in this class have the skill set to work professionally in groups through equal contribution, rapid refinement and critical conversation. We see each group acting as an office, who work together to produce a single, highly refined outcome.

Further, while this studio will run primarily on campus, some of our sessions will also be held on Zoom.

To see former outcomes, please visit:

Studio Leader

Colby Vexler is an architectural researcher and practitioner. He is also the editor of online contemporary architectural publication, cc:Journal.

Readings & References

A reading list will be provided to students in week 1.

Outside of this, we hope prospective students of this studio will immerse themselves in contemporary practice by exploring projects published in 2G, El Croquis, GA, JA and A+U. Further, we hope students will be avid readers of journals such as OASE, San Rocco, Accattone and The Architecture Review. This is because readings and references will allow students to better navigate the complex and ambivalent canon in which their projects are expected to sit.

Schedule Tuesdays and Fridays 15:15-18:15

Contact Handbook

Need enrolment assistance?

Stop 1 provides enrolment and other support to Bachelor of Design, Bachelor of Environments and Melbourne School of Design students.