Here at The Henry Project, we believe that it is not enough to think just about the quality of housing in our suburbs, without giving consideration to the quality of the communities that inhabit them. And that is because the benefit to the wellbeing and quality of life of households, which arises from strong community connections, is too great to ignore.
There is a growing body of evidence which shows that regular interaction between neighbours on the street has an important part to play in the wellbeing of households. These interactions help foster community spirit, allow people to have a strong sense of belonging, and provide opportunities for people to seek the support or company they may need for a better quality of life.
Our work seeks to bring neighbours together, to allow them to explore the benefit communal activities, endeavours and spaces would have in their lives, and to put these ideas into action. We would like to see the suburban street as a lively, active and connected group of households, where neighbours are involved in communal activities, with housing and spaces designed to sustain this interaction in the long term.
We seek to promote small scale, highly functioning communities, with the suburban street as the vehicle for these interactions.
For us, this starts with making better use of our existing housing stock. Increasingly, the story in our suburbs is that of large properties being occupied by small households. These households, in addition to the financial burden of mortgage repayments, may also struggle with the burden of an isolated way of life.
Our solution is to provide multiple parties with the opportunity to share a single title, each living independently, but with some communal facilities. The model of co-living that we advocate for is that of co-ownership, where three to four households share ownership of a single title, with each party owning a proportion of the title. It involves taking existing large properties and renovating them to make them suitable for the needs of multiple parties.
Above is one example which shows how a simple three bedroom property can be changed within the existing building envelope to accommodate multiple residents. This proposal shows three independent studios, with their own ensuites, kitchenettes, and living spaces, which also share common areas of a kitchen, dining/sitting area, a laundry, and the outdoor space.
Each party has a degree of independence, as well as the opportunity and facilities for interaction.
Taking this one step further, we can start to imagine how we can connect people not only with those within their household, but with their street and neighbourhood.
This plan shows another example, of a more extensively renovated house on a corner site. On the ground floor there are two self contained one bedroom apartments, as well as the common areas, shown orange (a kitchen/ dining, sitting area opening onto a street facing deck, laundry and workshop facing a secondary street.) On the first floor is a two bedroom apartment.
In this proposal, the communal spaces in the adapted house face and are open to the street, the idea being that they could invite interaction and participation among neighbours. It is not hard for example, to imagine the deck and common area being a place to invite neighbours for a drink or meal from time to time.
Further to this, this proposal imagines a scenario where multiple houses of this kind are located in the same vicinity, and where a network of households develop who share their different communal spaces with each other.
This shows a street map of the house above outlined in red. The blue spaces indicate common spaces, and the red tracks show potential interactions between neighbours. These communal spaces may vary from one house to the next, due to the differing interest of each household, creating a diversity of spaces that can be offered to the surrounding neighbourhood.
The result would be a connected network, with a diversity of uses and users all within the same street.
If this idea of an active, connected street community, with activities and spaces to support its residents resonates with you, we would love to hear from you. You and a few of your neighbours could be the catalyst for a shift in attitude on your street, to make your neighbourhood a more vibrant, connected and supportive place to live.
Get in touch via our contact form, or leave us a message below if you would like to learn more about how we can help.