Miguel Suarez



Architecture & Housing




"Urban Engawa"

After the world war period, Australian cities have suffered an uncontrolled urban sprawl caused by the so called “Australian Dream”. As population grew, so did car ownership. More and more people were living in isolation, far away from their jobs and city centres. In order to cope with the fast pace growth of car ownership, cities and suburbs were designed thinking of cars, making wide roads and narrow sidewalks, leaving a bare minimum of space for people to use. Streets were no longer liveable.

This project seeks to use Japanese philosophy and architecture as a mean to start solving this issue. For Japanese, unlike most western cultures, streets were not merely transportation routes. They were much more intimately involved spaces that combine the fabric of daily life and the space for communication. In fact, they had no single assigned spatial function. At certain times they were used as a space for private life and at other times as a space for public life. 

But what is important is not what happens on the streets but what happens in the space that connect the street and the dwelling itself. In Japanese housing, an “engawa” is a space where the line between inside and outside is blurred. A space that serves those aspects of daily life where family members come and go freely, gather with guests, relax, play or simply contemplate and connect with nature. This project proposes to begin to integrate the isolated dwellings into the broader community through a mixed use residential cluster that can be shared and enjoyed by everyone. This will in turn give way to the creation of new spaces that will be designed at a human scale and work in harmony with the “Urban Engawa”.