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The humble letterbox...

Total Perspective Vortex alert

This page is written from an Australian perspective,

based upon discussions between Nemo and postmen in both his family and friend circles

How should it be designed?

Why redesign?

Many letterboxes are still designed from a mid 20th century perspective, when postcards and smaller enveloped were common. In the early 21st century, most mail is now bills or similar. Usually in a tri-folded A4 or similar size. Also common are magazines and so on - usually A4 size. Older letterboxes cannot handle some or all of these.

design goals

  • accomodate a reasonable sized package.
  • secure
  • weather protection

design specifics

  • 11 x 22 x 33cm (H x W x L) via following logic:
    • floor area sufficient to lay a C4 envelope flat. (C4 is 229 × 324 mm (9.0" × 12.8"))
    • height sufficient to prevent regurgitation theft - say, 10cm min?
  • 'mouth' sufficient width to eat said C4 envelope. Approx 3cm high to accommodate magazines
  • top and sides of mouth should have overhang (lips!) to protect from weather. (perhaps provided by door if it's a roof door)
  • inside floor should be a raised grate to allow mail to sit *above* any weather that intrudes in, with adequate drainage to allow rain out.


  • Box should be lockable, and internal mail not be reachable through the mouth or other openings.
  • Box should be securely bolted down to prevent theft of entire box


  • Between approx 100 and 150cm from ground level (keyed from height of mouth), and no further than 50cm back from the path (ie, postie reach)

Identifying number

Letterboxes are an extremely common place to put the house number. My thoughts here are:

  • Solar powered internal LED to letterbox. (a $3 garden one will suffice). This brings benefits of internal illumination when checking letterbox at night
  • House number cut out of front of letterbox as a stencil. This hole then sealed with sheet of perspex or similar
  • Also, paint around the stencil hole also

This should mean the number is visible in the three main lighting conditions:

  1. daytime
  2. nighttime
  3. nighttime with a light shining on it.

unanswered questions

  • should it open at the back, side, or top?
    • side: smallest door
    • back: furthest away from "street". secure?
    • top: best for accessibility when checking box. Also allows for easier fix/replace of light in the top.

Further Ideas

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