David Weir’s message is loud and clear: architecture is vital to our everyday lives and should be available to all, whether it’s a large commercial project or a residential build.

“Architecture makes day-to-day living better,” says the director of David Weir Architects. “Considerate, smart, attentive architecture should be the norm, and in many places it is. To accept anything less is to accept the subpar.”

His project The Exploding! Shed House is a prime example of thoughtful, small-scale design and is a small-project architecture finalist in this year’s Australian Institute of Architects WA Architecture Awards.

Hidden off a laneway in Mount Lawley at the back of a subdivided property, this one-bedroom, one-bathroom home is a masterclass in small-footprint inner city living. A mix of weatherboard cottage and corrugated studio, it features concrete flooring, white walls, an art studio and plenty of natural light. As well as supplying the initial brief (“a small, affordable home with a yard and a studio space”), the client was actively involved throughout the design process and sent Weir sketches illustrating how she wanted the rooms to work and materials that she liked.

“The basic design of the house was two shed structures aligned next to each other, and my initial concept was that they would be ‘stitched’ together,” says Weir, who is working on a similarly designed home in Leederville. “But the client responded with this energetic scribble saying that she thought it was more of a collision, so we worked those ideas back into the design – hence the name. I’d love to pursue more projects of this nature.”

Weir, unfortunately, seems to be in the minority, at least while people continue to build four-bathroom, four-air conditioner concrete squares with no backyard. None the less, he believes the rise of higher-density living and smart, environmentally-conscious design needn’t be mutually exclusive.

“We [architects] allowed ourselves to get trapped in this public perception that we were all about extravagant design and huge houses, while all the time there have been great architects working away in small scales, with small budgets, getting more for their clients out of their homes and land,” says Weir. “I want to feel good about what I’m creating and putting out into the world. I want to be able to use my work to show everyone in Perth that they have options when it comes to housing.”

The Exploding! Shed House and other entrants for the 2016 WA Architecture Awards are on display from Monday June 27 to Friday July 8, 8am to 5pm, at the Central Park Lobby, 152–158 St Georges Terrace, Perth.

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