New design competition to promote housing choice

The Australian Institute of Architects’ Victorian Chapter has welcomed a new design competition by the Victorian Government which targets a best practice approach to increasing density that promotes housing choice and adaptability for the state’s growing population.

Following a detailed review and consultation with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Office of the Victorian Government Architect, the Institute has formally endorsed the first stage of the Future Homes Competition. The Institute intends to endorse the second stage, pending a review of full Stage Two documentation.

Chapter President Amy Muir said the forward-looking competition leverages design to achieve the best outcomes for Melbourne’s middle ring suburbs and the people who call them home.

‘We welcome this considered approach to population growth that recognises the value of good design and uses it to problem solve and promote better building,’ Ms Muir said.

‘The Future Homes design brief embraces critically important themes that the Institute has consistently advocated for over many years including sustainability, accessibility, quality and liveability.

‘It raises the bar in terms of the Government’s expectations for future infill development with an emphasis on community, whether that’s being a good neighbour or ensuring the comfort of future residents through things like good access to daylight, ventilation and shared spaces.

‘Importantly, the Government, through this competition, aims to harness the design talents of architectural professionals to ensure that an increase in density does not lead to a decrease in amenity.’

The competition forms part of the Victorian Government’s Better Apartments Program and will be run over a Two-stage process from March to September 2020.

It aims to develop a series of apartment designs that are prototypic, replicable and scalable which can be applied over a broad range of sites. In adeparture from more traditional design competitions, a range of successful design responses will be eligible to share in a $500,000 prize and honoraria pool. The competition is atypical in its conditions as it is not site specific.  The outcome will be a series of exemplar designs that may result in ‘demonstration projects’ with winners invited to collaboratively undertake further work post-competition.

‘The Institute is particularly pleased to see an emphasis placed on adaptability and housing diversity.

‘There is a family-friendly focus to the brief with an emphasis on design that enables households to “downsize, upsize and adapt” and allows “planning and design to work together, creating innovation in the housing market, by supporting and encouraging high-quality future homes”.

‘Designing in a way that anticipates and accommodates the changing needs of individuals and families over time is both complex and challenging.

‘The competition provides architects with an opportunity to really demonstrate their unique skills in shaping a high performance built solution.

‘It uses design to address the need to build net-zero dwellings that also help tackle the affordability challenge.

‘While architecture will always add value by providing bespoke responses to individual projects, this competition is a way to extend the benefits of architectural design to the community more broadly.’

The Future Homes competition is open to all Architects and building designers registered in Victoria.

The Institute encourages interested members to register with further information available here

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Fiona Benson
On behalf of the Australian Institute of Architects
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