Louise Johnson takes a look inside the Australian home and examines the changing character of the suburban idyll that maintains a hold on our national psyche, as the composition of its domestic spaces continues to evolve in response to the rising density of our major cities and growing ethnic and cultural diversity.

The great Australian dream has long had two components – home ownership and the freestanding dwelling in the suburbs. Despite the hype surrounding the densification of Australian cities, the suburban home is still the predominant house form. In addition, Australian houses have been distinguished for much of this century by being the largest in the world. Interestingly, though, this mantle has now shifted elsewhere.

The size of the Australian home peaked in 2009 at 247 square metres. The United States now has the biggest houses in the world – at 249 square metres – with Canada coming a fair way behind at 181 square metres and Denmark with 137 square metres.

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