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This is a proposal for a series of sites owned by the Department of Communities in Hilton WA, and intended for development as public housing. The brief was to design two x 2 bedroom units for each site, in a method that could be rolled out across seven rear battle axe lots owned by Housing in Hilton. Each site was to incorporate two homes, of between 60-80m2 each. Each home was to contain two bedrooms and be designed to accommodate two person households, or more.

This proposal seeks, first and foremost, to foster social connection. The basic premise was that the development could be an opportunity to create spaces that could actively bring tenants, neighbours and the broader community together. In this way, public housing would be able to offer an invaluable and desirable service to its surrounding neighbourhood, beyond the provision of housing for those who needed it.

Rather than considering sites as isolated entities within the suburb, the proposal connects multiple rear battle axe sites via a system of pedestrian laneways, off which are located 'neighbourhood' spaces. These neighborhood spaces could be used not only by the tenants living on each site, but could also be open, at selected times, to neighbours and the broader community.

As such, the proposal is organized around three types of space:

  • 'Private’ spaces, which are spaces to be used exclusively by the tenants of the site; this includes their two bedroom unit, and private north facing garden and balconies.

  • ‘Common’ spaces, which are spaces shared in common by the tenants of the site; this includes access spaces such as the driveway, carport and walkways to the individual entrances.

  • ‘Neighbourhood' spaces which are spaces where people can come together to socialise, play, work and get to know each other. They can manifest as a room for indoor activities, or as an outdoor garden or play spaces. It is intended that each site host one of these spaces, and they be connected by a rear green pedestrian laneways, so that people may walk from one site to the next.

It is intended that the amenity of the neighbourhood spaces vary from site to site across the suburb, meeting the needs of the community through a network of connected sites. It is proposed that a key part of the developed design process would be consultation and involvement of the surrounding neighbourhood. This participatory approach would identify the kinds of spaces that could best serve the neighbourhood, and the extent, if any, to which adjoining neighbours would like to be integrated into the network.

By way of example, these neighbourood spaces could include such venues such as a Seniors Drop In Room, a Children's Play/Toy Room, an outdoor Playground, a Co-working Space/Workshop or Artist's Studio and a BBQ space and Dining Room. The plan below shows the rear battle axe sites, the pedestrian laneways, and the private and neighbourhood spaces located off them.

In order to meet the budget constraints, a prefabricated construction methodology was conceived for the individual units as well as the neighbourhood space modules. Some key considerations of the design are:

- Prefabricated modular design, creating internal spaces of a minimum dimension of 4.2m, and internal ceilings of 2.7m. This prefabricated approach was a response to the ambitious brief requirement of a construction budget of $200K for each title.

- Sustainable features including:

  • Aluminium framed, E glazing to all windows and doors.

  • Proposed 5000L water storage, used to fill toilets and irrigate gardens

  • Proposed 5Kw solar panel system for each site to offset power

  • High indoor air quality achieved through use of recycled and hemp insulation creating breathable walls, soy-based glue plywood and no VOC paints.

  • Pedestrian street utilising stepping stones, gravel and intermittent native vegetation; common edible garden at front of site.

- A conservative approach to planning controls, with appropriate setbacks possible from all boundaries, a generous amount of open and garden space, and limited opportunities for overlooking and overshadowing.

>> READ MORE on the research behind this project


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