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New Guidelines For Social Housing Provides Opportunities For The Architecture And Design Industry

New Guidelines For Social Housing Provides Opportunities For The Architecture And Design Industry

over 1 year ago By Emily Harris
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In the lead up to the NSW State budget next month - which is set to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on social housing to help stimulate the economy- new guidelines have been released on the design of social housing to better support tenants and the local community.

Last week, the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) and the Government Architect NSW have collaborated to create two new industry benchmarking documents – Good Design for Social Housing and LAHC Dwelling requirements- which will supersede the 2014 LAHC Design Standards.

These documents aim to promote the design principles that improve quality of life and reduce energy costs. They also outline minimum design requirements that must be followed; a major requirement being the increase in the minimum floor area for each size of dwelling by 5m.  

The discussion around good design for social housing and standards of living garnered significant attention earlier this year, when nine high density public housing estates in Melbourne’s inner north-west were placed in an un precedented lockdown. The lockdown made the local community and the state government take a good, hard, look at these housing estates; many which had received minimal renovations since their initial design in the 1960s.

The nine tower ‘hard’ lockdown which aimed to treat an outbreak of COVID-19 in the towers, resulted in 3,000 residents being prohibited from leaving the premises for at least 5 days. Due to the overcrowded nature of these dwellings, the narrow corridors and multiple shared facilities (lifts, laundries etc.) the towers became a perfect breeding ground for a highly contagious virus like covid to spread. The spatial vulnerabilities of the dwellings also made it very difficult for tenants to self-isolate, which was one of the key reasons the Victorian Government justified the lockdown. While social housing, has come under fire previously in Australia and globally in regards to issues of overcrowding and general decline in building maintenance, COVID-19 and the increased amount of time residents have had to spend at home, has highlighted the importance design and infrastructure can have on a person’s quality of life.

Social housing is also expected to play a key role in NSW’s COVID-19 recovery plan, as not only will the construction of new dwellings create jobs for those within the Construction, Design and Architecture industries, but it will be able to support thousands of vulnerable Australians who have been struggling during the economic hardships of this year. According to the NSW Government,  48,000 households were on the NSW social housing list as of June 2018 and this was prior to the unemployment rate, which increased to 6.9% in September (1.7 pts higher than September last year).

These new projects that NSW are set to embark on, in addition to the Good Design guidelines will provide great opportunities for those within the architecture and design space, to not only redefine the design and building structures for social housing, but to contribute and serve their local community.


Image: Doug and Wolf Soruced from Architecture AU


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