Sustainability: The 5×4 Project

The 5×4 Hayes Lane Project is a fascinating project that combines the determination and passion of one man with the dedication of many. The force of creative thinking blended with the power of global knowledge and environmental awareness has allowed this project to come to fruition. We talk to Phil Withers from Phillip Withers Landscape Design who was consulted throughout the 5×4 Project for their edible garden design.

Hayes LaneTell me about the project?

It is a project we were involved in that sets the scene for small urban and sustainable living. We were able to work alongside some of the finest including Phillip Johnson to create an edible garden in the sky.

The 5×4 Hayes Lane Project is a unique, inner-city dwelling set on an unusually small footprint – 5 x 4 metres! The entire build is designed, built and powered with passive and active eco-driven processes, materials and performance considerations.

The 5×4 Hayes Lane Project demonstrates and encourages discussion around sustainable living, a healthy form of densification in the city of Melbourne and how to achieve it through best practice design and living.


It uses the One Planet Living principles as a guide for the physical design of the project, adaptation around behaviour to reduce ecological footprints in a city, and acts as a platform to disseminate progress and learnings from the process.

One Planet Living helps people and organisations around the world to live and work within a fair share of our planet’s resources.

Who is involved?

The project is run by the Ralph Alphonso. His motivation to build a sustainable house with the smallest carbon footprint had him draw on his experiences through Barley Store, to communicate and bring together specialists to develop The 5×4 Hayes Lane Project.

Barley Store is a Melbourne-based production company, founded by Ralph Alphonso. At Barley Store, the approach is to identify creative projects and challenge existing responses. Through strategic thinking, innovative solutions and expression, projects are brought to life via unique and engaging platforms.

All the project partners involved were chosen for their endeavour to make the project as environmentally friendly as possible. All of the project partners can be found at

How did it come about?

It all stemmed from a meeting at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show 2015 with our industry friend Phillip Johnson who was the lead landscape designer for the project. He brought Ralph down to meet us and discuss how we could assist in bringing the edible garden to life in the best way possible.


What role did you play?

We looked to introduce edibles such as chillies, mint, thyme, Vietnamese mint, strawberries, curry plant, sage, lemon verbena, and planted them in designated wicking bed planters, each at window level, right up to the top-level. The position of each of the plants was dependant upon their varying requirements. Being a 5 x 4m footprint house the plants were located at hands reach, at each window opening.  This not only softens the view and makes it easy to pick, it allows the plant to be exposed to the elements which it needs for survival.


What was the overall objective of the project?

The motivation for The 5×4 Hayes Lane Project is to utilise a small, urban footprint of land to construct a livable dwelling. Whilst maximising the use of the limited space.

The 5×4 Hayes Lane Project’s endeavours to do all this in an environmentally responsible manner, looking at the whole life cycle of the dwelling – from conception to decommission.

Do you see this being a template for future projects?

I see this as a great discussion around sustainable living, a healthy form of densification in the city of Melbourne and how to achieve it through best practice design and living.

Why did you get involved?

It resonates with our core values and of all the gardens we aspire to design and build. The garden has form, aesthetic and function.

What did you learn from being involved?

The part that I enjoyed more then anything else was to see the building complete. It’s a credit to everyone involved to see what can be achieved in a practical, sustainable and achievable manner. Especially, considering the major constraint which was size. It perfectly depicts why there is no need to waste any of the space you that you own. It only takes practical thinking, and some great things can be achieved.

The 5×4 Hayes Lane Project is airing in Series 6 of Grand Designs Australia, 8:30pm, 5th November on the 106 Lifestyle channel, Foxtel.

The short of it…

Phillip Withers
Landscape Design
Melbourne based. Design nationally.
Further Information: