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Could residential rear laneways be untapped sources of income?

Atelier Andy Carson, in collaboration with HouseLab, has designed an innovative new Concept Space that supports local produce and brings new meaning to the quintessential notion of the garage sale.

Could residential rear laneways be untapped sources of income?

The invention of the internet marked the comeuppance of many things now preserved in nostalgic memory — the garage sale is one of them. This design concept, however, stands to change that.

Designed by Atelier Andy Carson and extrapolating on the increasingly momentous movement of buying local, the fourth instalment in HouseLab’s Concept Spaces initiative transforms the urban residential rear laneway into a powerful utility for home grown businesses and local produce start-ups. An exemplar of adaptive reuse considered at the most quotidian scale, the design reimagines the garage space of an urban terrace house as a kitchen and serving space enabling entrepreneurial home cooks to prepare and sell local produce from home.

“With the recent COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a swelling of local daytime populations and the importance of local community coming to the fore,” explain Andy Carson and Shaghig Nalbandian, who culminated the brains behind the Concept Space. “Meanwhile local and state authorities have loosened regulations for registering home kitchens and venues serving alcohol.” Riffing off of these evident COVID-driven shifts in behaviour, Andy and Shaghig put two and two together to propose a unique amalgamation of hospitality and residential design.

A projecting central bench forms the anchor of the design concept — both literally and figuratively speaking. Serving dual factions, the rolling central bench operates in a multi-functional capacity. With one side providing ample space for the preparation, storage and serving of produce, the other is dedicated to customers from the local neighbourhood.

Creating a destination with simple amenities becomes a key part of the offering. “We initially alter ‘path’ to ‘destination’ by slowing the flow of pedestrian traffic and providing a dock for people to meet and interact,” explain the designers. Public interactions can range from a quick pick up when moving through the lane, to counter meals, team meetings, presentations, and functions. Private interactions mean the household can close off the space after hours for family meals, guest dinners or family events. At every turn this space is infinitely adaptable and open to interpretation and use.

Sitting adjacent, the primary kitchen workspace and customer interface is thoughtfully fixed and fitted. A full range of premium residential kitchen appliances by Miele comprises a highly effective and productive working kitchen. The XXL version Miele oven and steam oven combination equip the former garage space with the means to create a wide range of high-quality produce and cater for high quantities. Specifying an induction cooktop was key to ensuring flexibility in the roofing department, as it means that no rangehood is required. A Miele dishwasher and wine cabinet provide further essential functionality to the reimagined space. Last but not least, a Zip Hydro Tap ARC offers chilled still and sparkling drinking water as a hospitable gesture for customers and guests to refresh themselves.

Toward the rear, moveable amphitheatre style seating offers various configurations, accommodating face to face seating, L shape audience space or other casual seating for functions, presentations, dining, or lounging. Loose furniture stools and bar tables can also gather or separate throughout the space or in the laneway where needed.

Materials used in the elegantly finished space vary from the tough and crude to the fine and well finished. A roughhewn monolithic stone block houses the sink, with the working kitchen surfaces all in hardy stainless steel. Finished with a lick of dusty green paint, the fine plate steel of the central bench complements the loose furniture in colourful yet subdued tones. An altogether un-fussy and welcoming grass paver floor runs throughout, immediately softening the hard laneway and demarcating the space.

Grey timber slats offer a lightness and softness to touch and the fresh white of the slatted solar pergola with glass over offers rain protection and the play of dappled light passing and marking the time of day. Deciduous vines and plantings also accentuate the passing seasons and provide a varying colour palette. After hours, a horizontally bi-folding gate closes down with its dark grey steelwork embracing the tough/gritty rear laneway.

Responding to genuine shifts pertinent to urban lifestyles of today, Atelier Andy Carson and HouseLab have produced an innovative concept for a residential-hospitality design hybrid that supports the development of homegrown businesses and buying local produce. More fortuitously, the result presents an intriguing business case for a contemporary renaissance of the garage sale.

Renders by Atelier Andy Carson courtesy of HouseLab

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