Design is too often defined as problem solving. To consider it as such is disempowering for designers. It implies that design can only emerge from a problem, rather than the potential for design to emerge from an insight or opportunity and not in response to a problem. Design is undertaken with intent, with curiosity and by asking the right questions. Design may be undertaken in order to meet a particular specification or in response to a recognised opportunity. Read more →
Deliberately burning anything as a ritual act is a beautiful and powerful experience. The power comes from the realisation of impermanence, the allure of the event and the literal transformation that takes place. When the ritual is further overlaid with the desire for release from the past, from pain or from the wretched, it takes on a more spiritual meaning. To think of this as an endpoint for whatever was burnt, is to underestimate its power. Read more →
The Medium Density Housing Code has been in the NSW Planning pipeline for a few years. A draft was released in late 2016 with an open design competition run at the end of 2016 to test the draft controls.
The Final Code was adopted a few months ago and is due to come into effect on 6 July 2018. We’ve done quite a bit of homework to get to understand the Code and how it might be useful for our existing and prospective clients.
Essentially the Code permits redevelopment of certain sites for Medium Density Housing and approval as Complying Development (CDC) which is a much faster approval process than the traditional DA (Development Application) process. Complying Development can be approved via Private Certifier, avoiding the often protracted and contentious Council DA process which can add considerably to holding costs. The Zoning of the site (R1, R2, R3 etc.) is critical to the permissibility of each of the housing types permitted by the Code. There is also some variation in permissibility of different housing types between Councils due to variation in zoning definitions. But, if lot sizes and zoning fit the criteria, then you have a green light for redevelopment as a CDC.
There are three different redevelopment possibilities offered by the Medium Density Housing Code which are summarised here:
Terrace Houses: Minimum 6 metre wide terrace houses on a site where you could run a row of them across the frontage (think Paddington) but 1.5-metre side setbacks are required for the two end terraces. Minimum starting site size is 600sqm with a frontage of 18 metres (implying you would probably want a wider site to get three on – refer Duplex below for narrower sites)
For Duplexes (one up one down) / Dual Occupancies (side by side or detached), the minimum lot width is 12 metres, and the minimum lot size is 400sqm which in theory means that you can get 2 on a site that has a 12 metre frontage, but the key will be how the cars are accommodated. With a rear lane (with the cars at the rear) or corner site this is readily possible at 12 metres, or with a basement, but with a single frontage, you may need closer to 15 metres to get it to work if parking is located on grade.
For Manor houses (like a big ‘house’ containing up to 4 independent units) the minimum lot width is 15 metres, with a minimum lot size of 600sqm. Manor houses allow you to get 3 to 4 units on a single site. But, to get 4 on you will likely need a corner site or wider site. These are interesting building types that could be a really viable proposition for small-time builder/developers or existing landowners looking to get significant uplift and a quick turnaround (by sidestepping the DA process), but site selection is key and design will be important to achieving an optimal arrangement and maximising return.
Working through the controls and approval is challenging, particularly if you’re looking to get good units that address each site’s particularities and you’ll want an Architect familiar with the associated compliance requirements of multi-dwelling housing. Permissibility is quite easy to determine by looking up the LEP Zoning for a prospective site and with a clear understanding of your site’s dimensions; this can be formally confirmed by obtaining a S149 Certificate, and consulting with a Private Certifier.
It will be interesting to see what housing quality develops from these controls. From our perspective the controls offer a great opportunity to provide a largely forgotten scale of more affordable housing that sits between the choice of outer ring single suburban homes and the construction of larger apartment buildings currently prevailing within the inner city and inner ring suburbs of Sydney.
There’s been many a hyperbolic story in the press recently about the new State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for Low Rise Medium Density. Without going into detail, the SEPP is an Act of State Parliament that allows Duplexes, Manor Houses and Row (or terrace) Houses, meeting all requirements under the Act, to be built without consent from Local Councils. The thing about the Act is that this type housing can only be built where it’s currently already permitted to be built. Nothing has changed in terms of the development potential of sites, just the approvals path. Read more →
At Redshift we hate complacency! It assumes you’ve reached potential without testing that there is greater possibility. It’s unproductive and undermines the best of human ambition.
If you value the world around you, the environment you live in, work in, play in, meet in; and how it affects your well being, and that of others then there is no room for complacency, and yet we are surrounded by complacency and a reluctance to challenge norms.
When I think about what drives us at Redshift; it is a reaction against complacency. Our first project was a housing project. We couldn’t understand why housing was produced with eyes firmly set on the lowest common denominator; lowest cost, lowest risk, lowest ambition and a (false) pretence for the highest value.
Over the next 5 years the NSW State Government targeting the construction of 200 000 new homes. To date, however, less than 5% of housing stock in Sydney is designed by architects. It is likely, therefore, that architects will not be involved in the design of the majority of these new dwellings, albeit due to the requirements of SEPP 65, at a higher proportion than historically. Read more →
It seems of late I’ve been having an increasing number of conversations regarding working for free or in particular having people working for you for no pay. This has been spurred on by a number of things, one was the excellent TED talk by Amanda Palmer, which if haven’t seen it you really should, you can see it here. Another was on Seth Godin’s Blog where he writes “Should you work for free?” which was also picked up by BDOnline in particular regard to architects working for free. In particular the conversations have focussed on so-called interns. It’s a practice I had thought for a long time was not overly common here and was more particular to overseas work practice, however, locally it does now seem to be increasingly common.
Architects are an insatiable lot, we want to design everything (& think we can). Yet less than 10% of housing in Australia has architectural involvement and the majority of new housing in NSW is delivered by developers and project home companies. Only multi-residential projects, as mandated by SEPP 65, require an architect’s involvement in NSW. The Department of Planning and Environment recently released a draft Medium Density Housing Code, a policy aiming to “increase the supply and quality of low rise medium density housing across NSW”. Read more →
Often when an architect is presented with a societal problem or need, their first reaction is to design a building in response to the predicament. It’s a curious outcome given that an architect’s training and skills extend well beyond the planning of a building. Read more →