The size of Australian homes has come under the microscope in recent years, but a recent Buildworld study indicates just how large our residential spaces are.

Canberra was recorded as having the largest homes of any capital city in the world, at an average of 256.3 sqm, while Australian and American homes are ranked as the largest on a countrywide scale. The study indicates that larger homes are more difficult to heat, cool and maintain, ultimately driving up emissions.

Australian state capitals, as well as Canberra, have been the subject of scrutiny, due to the amount of floorspace the average home holds. Moscow, which ranked the lowest in the study, has a staggering 560 percent less floorspace on average in comparison to Canberra, with the average home’s floorspace coming in at 45.5 sqm. Belgium is ranked the largest on average in Europe, at 151.8 sqm, but pales in comparison to that of the nation’s capital. Interestingly, despite ranking second on the international scale, USA’s Washington D.C. ranks 35th out of the 72 capitals surveyed, averaging 86.6 sqm of floorspace per home.

Australian Institute of Architects President, Shannon Battison, says the oversized homes nationwide are becoming a major sustainability sticking point.

salo thursday arch

“We're leaving vast members of the community behind, because not everyone can or should afford a huge house. And lots of us who can't afford these huge houses, but feel the need to build them because that's what everybody builds, are building them really badly," she says in an interview with Buildworld.

Brussels, Edinburgh and Nicosia are the only cities in Europe that rank in the top 20. Africa’s Cairo and Tripoli rank second and third behind Canberra, while Arab nation Jordan ranks fourth, the highest Asian city on the list.

The European Commission believes that an influx of students and workers to European capitals push prices and build pressure on finite space, with over half the homes in Oslo, Berlin and Paris comprising one occupant.

12 of the capital cities with the smallest homes are located in Europe. Moscow’s lowly ranking is attributed to Soviet-era multi-residential complexes that were set up for low socioeconomic groups.

Buildworld expects residential occupancy rates to decline due to the decentralisation of online information and the WFH movement cultivated by the pandemic. 

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Body Image: Thursday Architecture's SALO project, located in Canberra.