Creative models to tackle Sydney's housing affordability

The shortlist for the City of Sydney’s housing challenge has been released, offering new ideas for improving affordability in Australia's largest city.

Author

Laura Valic

Smart homes with eye scanners, pop up shelters in unused buildings and affordable ownership models are a few of the ideas shortlisted for the City of Sydney’s housing challenge.

Seven entries were selected out of hundreds as part of the international challenge calling for creative thinking centred on increasing affordable housing supply across Sydney and reducing housing stress. 

The competition invited innovative housing ideas in the areas of delivery, financing, management, building, ownership and design. Those shortlisted receive $20,000 to further develop their concept, with the possibility of helping to shape the City’s approach to housing in the future.

'Sydney is grappling with a housing affordability crisis, but we need a diversity of housing to accommodate the diversity of our community,' Lord Mayor Clover Moore says. 'The City has assisted in the construction of 835 new affordable housing dwellings since 2004, by collecting levies from developers and selling our land to affordable housing providers at discount rates. This type of affordable housing allows key workers such as teachers, nurses and paramedics to live close to their place of work, improving their wellbeing, shortening travel times and reducing congestion.

'While this is a proven mechanism, it’s simply not enough. We need to meet the needs of low-income workers, elderly residents and families in our city.'

The seven shortlisted entries include:

  • An equity housing model that provides affordability through innovations in financing and ownership types from Eddie Ma, co-founder of Sydney-based spatial design practice, Vigilanti.
  • A smart home that monitors its residents and collects data to offset costs for residents by Joe Colistra and Nilou Vakil in Kansas, principal architects with US firm, in situ Design and instructors at the University of Kansas.
  • A metropolitan lands trust policy framework from researcher Dr Louise Crabtree at Western Sydney University and Jason Twill of Urban Apostles, an urban advisory and property development firm specialising in creative city making and alternative housing.
  • Temporary pop up shelters which repurpose buildings to provide crisis and transitional accommodation in the short to medium term from founder and director of Housing All Australians, Robert Pradolin.
  • A Right Size Service allowing residents to adapt the size and function of their property as their circumstances change from Dr Alysia Bennett, Monash University, Dr Dana Cuff, UCLA’s cityLAB and Monash University and Dr Damian Madigan, University of South Australia.
  • The Pixel Project that would establish radically affordable, high amenity dwellings that match more closely the way people live in the city today, from Anita Panov and Andrew Scott at panovscott Architects and Alexander Symes of Alexander Symes Architect.
  • A cooperative housing model adapting the Zurich ‘non-profit build-to-rent’ model to the Sydney context by associate director at MGS Architects Katherine Sundermann, urban strategist Alexis Kalagas and urban designer Andy Fergus.
An international entry from Joe Colistra and Nilou Vakil in Kansas offers a prototype for a Sydney smart home. The design shows how digital infrastructure is as important in the housing discussion as bricks and mortar. The concept includes tools that monitor the occupant, collecting and selling the data to offset the costs for residents.
 
'The "Smart Home Sydney" introduces affordable options while providing amenities and services to thrive at all stages of life,' Joe says. 'A science fiction scenario of "smart cities" is not as far off as you may believe. The smart home prototype provides a vision of the future and creates lifelong neighbourhoods.'
 
Dr Alysia Bennett and the Right Size Service team’s proposal would allow residents to adapt the size and function of their property as personal circumstances change.
'The design approach for the proposal is rightsizing through renovation,' Alysia says. 'The Right Size approach incentivises homeowners to create new infill dwellings within existing houses supported by loan and property management approaches. Unlike downsizing, which often involves leaving the family home and suburb you love, a rightsized house is an appropriate scale and cost to suit the needs and circumstances of the household over time.'
 
The City will provide funding to develop the seven shortlisted ideas over the next five months. Once this development stage is complete, the public will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the shortlisted concepts in November and December.


'We’re proud to announce our final shortlist, offering new ideas for alternative and affordable housing solutions to help meet the needs of our community and beyond. We anticipate that the successful projects will be replicable, scalable and provide lessons for future initiatives,' Lord Mayor Clover Moore adds.

'We’re proud to announce our final shortlist, offering new ideas for alternative and affordable housing solutions to help meet the needs of our community and beyond. We anticipate that the successful projects will be replicable, scalable and provide lessons for future initiatives,' Lord Mayor Clover Moore adds.

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