Search

NEDLANDS CASE STUDIES


These case studies were offered as an approach to infill development to the City of Nedlands, when their Local Planning Scheme was recently being reviewed and updated. Through the case studies, I offered a holistic approach to infill development, that utilised the multi-household dwelling type: where multiple households could share use and/or ownership of a single title. This typology sought to:

  • improve density in a low impact manner, within the existing built fabric

  • foster greater social connection between residents

  • provide a housing typology better suited to changing household demographics.


BACKGROUND


The benefits to the wellbeing of individuals, as a result of being socially well connected, are now well known. People with strong social connections can live, on average, 15 years longer than people who are disconnected. [1] And research into the health impact of social relatedness finds a 50% better survival rate among the socially connected than among those who are isolated. [2] Housing plays a vital role in providing opportunities for these social relationships to form. These case studies offered a response that can improve the wellbeing of both residents and neighbours, whilst addressing pressing density concerns.

One factor that informs this idea is how under-utilised our existing housing is. In Australia, one in four households are lone households, and of those, at least 55% have two or more spare bedrooms. What this translates to is over a million homes that have just one person living in them, with two or more spare bedrooms. [3]


Within the City of Nedlands, 23% of detached or semi detached houses are occupied by a single household with at least two spare bedrooms.

  • 11% of dwellings have a lone household living in them with at least two spare bedrooms (ie, minimum three bedrooms);

  • 12% have couples with at least two spare bedrooms (ie, minimum four bedrooms).

These figures indicate that nearly one in four homes within The City of Nedlands is being underutilised. Multi-household dwellings provide an opportunity to make better use of housing and improve density, without significant built development.


The reason multi-household dwellings are relevant to local planning policy is because they offer a way to improve density without impacting on the existing amenity of a neighbourhood. With some modifications, homes that previously housed just one household could house up to three households. In addition to improved density, other benefits are:

  • Retaining the existing open space, established large gardens, and neighbourhood character of a suburb.

  • Improved wellbeing and quality of life for households through the creation of ‘micro-communities.’

  • Allowing older lone households or couples to ‘age in place’ by downsizing whilst staying in their homes and in the neighbourhood they love.

  • Providing a more accessible entry point for people looking to buy into the City of Nedlands, by buying a portion of a home, rather than the whole home.

  • Freeing up larger homes for families wanting to move into the area.


The case studies were well received, with Mayor Max Hipkins having the following to say:

"I am a strong supporter of the The Henry Project. The Henry Project offers many advantages – socially, it fosters communication and interaction; economically, it assists with the sharing of ever-growing household expenses and physically, it is a low-key way of increasing population density while retaining the existing housing fabric and neighbourhood quality."

>> READ MORE FROM MAYOR HIPKINS


CASE STUDY ONE


This case study shows how an existing residence can be modified with a very minimal internal renovations, and a small external addition, to accommodate up to three independent households. For all these case studies, the owner scenarios are fictional, but the dwellings are actual existing dwellings, sourced from real estate listings.


The scenario that this case study offers is that the owners are an older couple living in their family home. They love their home and neighbourhood and would like to stay in it for as long as possible. This couple undertakes renovations to their home so they are able to share it with an older single female friend and a younger single professional woman. The renovation provides:

  • An entirely independent 'apartment' for the couple, which has comfortable living/dining areas, bedroom, study and ensuite. A kitchenette can also be accommodated. They have their own private courtyard space and a single car bay.

  • A separate 'apartment' for their older single female friend. This has similar living quarters, with living/dining areas, bedroom and ensuite. A kitchenette can also be accommodated. There is access to the rear shared garden, and a single car bay.

  • A smaller studio space for the younger single professional woman, with access to the front porch and garden, and a single car bay.

  • There are extensive shared areas, including a shared laundry. The main kitchen, dining and living area of the existing house, which open onto the rear deck and garden, are all retained, with the intention that these can be used when the three households wish to come together, or when they wish to have guests over. All the separate 'apartments' are accessed from the front entry and common area.

  • All the households have their own comfortable private areas, as well as spaces where they can come together if they wish.

CASE STUDY TWO


The second case study shows how an existing residence can be modified with a minimal internal renovation, and the addition of a separate ancillary dwelling (granny flat), to accommodate up to three independent households.

In this scenario, the owner is an older single woman living in her family home. She is finding the existing home too large for her on her own and the maintenance a burden. She undertakes renovations to her home so she can share it with a older single female friend and adds a separate ancillary dwelling for a single father and his young daughter. The renovations provide:

  • An entirely independent 'apartment' for the owner, within the main house, which has comfortable living/dining areas, bedroom, and ensuite. A kitchenette can also be accommodated. Her apartment opens onto a private rear garden, and she has access to a single car bay.

  • A second separate 'apartment' within the main house for a friend. This has similar living quarters, with living/dining areas, bedroom and ensuite. A kitchenette can also be accommodated. Her apartment also opens onto a private rear garden.

  • A detached ancillary dwelling, with two generous sized bedrooms, with study spaces, a large bathroom, and an open plan living/dining and kitchen. The ancillary dwelling has its own private garden, private entry down the side boundary, and access to one car bay.

  • There are extensive shared areas, including a shared laundry. The main kitchen, dining and living area of the existing house, which are easily accessed from the main front entry, are all retained, with the intention that these can be used when the three households wish to come together, or when they wish to have guests over.

  • All the households have their own comfortable private areas, as well as spaces where they can come together if they wish.

CASE STUDY THREE


The third case study shows how an existing dilatated cottage can be renovated through an extensive custom build, to provide accommodation for up to three separate households, but without precluding a more conventional use in the future.


In this scenario, three single, older women friends buy and renovate the original house in an intentional manner which allows them to enjoy both the comforts of company as well as the privacy of their own individual spaces.

  • Each owner has her own independent 'apartment', that includes open plan living/ dining/ kitchenette space, bedroom and bathroom. Each of their living spaces open onto a private outdoor garden, and they each have access to a single car bay.

  • In addition to the individual private spaces, there are also extensive shared areas where they can come together. The shared living/ dining/ kitchen space are housed in the existing character home, and are easily accessible from the front entry and porch. In addition, there is a small guest suite with private bathroom, that can be used either by visiting family or friends, or indeed by a shared live in carer should the need arise. There is also a shared laundry and study/ reading nook, that looks out into a small courtyard.

  • Through this combination of private and shared spaces, the owners have both privacy and connection, and can provide for their future long term needs, to ensure they can be easily supported, either by each other, by visiting friends or family, or by a live in carer.

To future proof the design, it is possible that, through very minor alternation, this same house which previously accommodated three households could be occupied by a multi-generational family. The house can be divided into a self-contained four bedroom house with a separate ancillary dwelling. This would allow the previous group of owners to sell it to a single buyer if they wished.


--------------------------------------------------------------------


Through these case studies, I hope to show that the multi-household housing typology provides a holistic response to pressing local concerns. They can improve density, provide a better quality of life and provide more appropriate housing for changing demographics. They could have a very useful place in local planning policy.


---------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Tackling the crisis of social disconnection, Charles Montgomery, July 1, 2017


[2] Brenton, M. (2010). Potential benefits of Cohousing for Older People: A Literature Review.


[3] Housing Data sourced from the ABS:

2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016

41300, Table 6, Housing Occupancy and Costs, Australia, 2015–16