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This recent schematic design stage work was undertaken in collaboration with Clare Mengler, with the intent being to deliver an exploration of options for a multi-unit residential development on an approx 1000m2 site in Beaconsfield, within The City of Fremantle.

Having identified that the site fell within an area that would be subject to the proposed Freo Alternative Scheme, we suggested to our client a schematic design scope of works where we could analyse and compare the possibilities within both the provisions of the Draft Freo Alternative Scheme, and the provisions of the current R-codes zoning. When it comes into effect, the Freo Alternative Scheme will be a set of optional planning controls, which can be adopted by an applicant should they wish, as an alternative to the R-Codes. It is yet untested in terms of the outcomes it could deliver, and as such was not clear to either ourselves or our client if it could yield desirable outcomes. Our early exploratory work would give him a considered understanding of the outcomes possible under each set of planning controls, within the parameters of his specific brief, so he could determine the most suitable way to proceed.

Areas where the Freo Alternative Scheme applies.

Our client’s brief was focused on a wonderful vision that intentionally sought to design for community and incorporate sustainable practices. A generous allowance for common gardens was requested, as well as inclusion of shared indoor spaces such as a common kitchen (in addition to each households own kitchen facilities), a multi-purpose common room and other shared amenities. The site, located on Lefroy Rd, also had access via a rear right of way, and our client requested we make the most of this additional access.

The most significant difference between the two planning controls was the requirement for 70% open space in The Freo Alternative Scheme, as compared to the 50% required under the R-Codes (in this instance, R20 zoning). Our initial step was to explore the permitted built areas within each scheme, and how they would impact on the scale of the development. In particular we explored the various ways the site could be subdivided, assessing factors such as solar access, street orientation and right of way usage.

Built Area Analysis

After exploring various layouts and configurations, our assessment was that the R20 zoning could effectively accommodate up to twice as much built area as permitted by the Freo Alternative Scheme. The main reason for this was the 70% open space requirement of the Freo Alternative Scheme, as well as the requirement that each dwelling be no more than 120m2. Certainly, from a market value perspective, this was a factor which our client has to give careful consideration to.

Another significant factor was that on a site of that area, the Freo Alternative Scheme permitted up to four separate dwellings, with a maximum size of 120m2 per dwelling. The R20 zoning permitted two dwellings, but with no area restrictions on the size of each dwelling, as long as planning controls were met. Another way to articulate this is that the Freo Alternative Scheme could yield up to four titles on the site, whilst the R20 zoning could yield a maximum of two. The important distinction here is that the most common interpretation of this would mean that the Freo Alternative Scheme could permit four separate owners, whilst the R20 zoning could permit a maximum of two.

A key point of difference and area of expertise which The Henry Project can offer is how to accommodate for more than one household on the one title, and it was an additional layer of exploration which we were able to offer our client.

We explored how, even within the R20 zoning, two separate households could be accommodated on each title (amounting to a total of four households across the entire site) and specifically designing for this scenario of two households potentially co-owning a single title. In this instance, we explored it in two ways:

  • A design where each unit could either be sold as a five bedroom house, or where each unit could be split into two portions – one a two bedroom portion, the other a three bedroom portion. This was enabled through the design of a central kitchen space at the core of the house. This kitchen was envisioned as a space which could be configured as a single generous kitchen for one household OR a single kitchen with adequate facilities for two households to use concurrently OR a space which could be separated into two kitchens using movable partitions. In addition, this central kitchen space was positioned adjacent to a large central garden, and all portions designed to open onto this sunny common outdoor space, which could be used for social gatherings and regular common events.

One Household on the One Title VS Multiple Households on the One Title

  • Within the R20 zoning, an attached ancillary dwelling could be permitted on each site, to a maximum area of 70m2, in addition to a four bedroom dwelling. Each dwelling could be used independently, with each having its own kitchen, and without the need to share any internal spaces, but with allowance for the ancillary dwelling to be accessible from the main house.

  • Both of the above scenarios did not preclude the ability to sell each unit to just a single owner, who could then rent out a portion of it, or allow friends or family to co-habit with them. The design of the spaces ensured that no loss of amenity would be experienced if the units were used as either a whole unit by one household, or as two portions by two separate households.

We were also able to accommodate a comparable amount of community amenities within both options, with consideration given to designing for a balance between private spaces as well as shared common spaces. Each option allowed for:

  • Separate entrances for each household

  • Separate gardens for each household, with north facing orientation

  • Entirely separate areas for each household, with north facing access to living areas

  • A generous common garden

  • Other common areas where households could come together

This useful small parcel of rigourous, pragmatic architectural research was a best-practice assessment of feasible, permissible options, within local regulations and guidelines, exploring the typology about which The Henry Project is passionate: socially connected, affordable architecture which strives to deliver aspects of common space and shared amenity. This analysis in total was undertaken in a six week period, on a fixed low fee, and set our client up with an understanding of the various options available to him. By assessing in a wholistic manner how the various options meet his brief of design for community living and sustainable practices, the market value of each option and his likely return on investment, he will have a solid footing to decide how to move forward.

We welcome your enquiries if you are interested in seeing the detailed plans for this scheme or if you have a site where you would like to undertake a similar design exploration.


A word from our client:

"I was very impressed when I engaged The Henry Project, in particular Meriam Salama and Clare Mengler to draft a plan and concept presentation for my property. They were interactive and listened carefully to my ideas expressed.They responded to questions and e-mails immediately, addressed and troubleshoot problems very effectively with their experience and passion for quality architecture.They were easy to work with and I appreciated their effort and endeavour to make me a happy customer. Thank you Meriam and Clare."


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