A brutal war of words has spilled over on social media as the Nightingale Housing organisation has a very public split from one of its founders.
Nightingale Housing has launched a claim of defamation against co-founder and former board member Andrew Maynard following a scathing attack on the recently-listed not-for-profit group.
The Austin Maynard architect claimed it was “another green-washed developer” and that one person had now taken control of the “Nightingale brand”.
In a post to Instagram Maynard said “one person … built off the charity and goodwill of some of Australia’s best architects and collaborators, now owns the incredibly valuable Nightingale brand”.
“The brand we were all building for the community is now controlled by one person.”
Partnering architecture firms including Kennedy Nolan and Six Degrees Architecture have come out in support of Nightingale, saying there had been a “campaign of misinformation”.
Maynard was one of the original handful of architects who helped to found and launch the Nightingale model, aimed at addressing housing affordability issues. He was also on the board until two years ago when he vacated his seat.
Nightingale was founded in 2016 with its first groundbreaking project Nightingale 1.0.
Breathe Architecture put the call out to some of the best architects in Melbourne to help launch the disrupting concept, creating a developer's toolkit to allow architects to build communities and tackle the affordability crisis.
Architecture Architecture, Austin Maynard, Clare Cousins, MRTN Architects, Wolveridge and Six Degrees put up seed capital to help launch Nightingale 1.0 and according to Nightingale Housing chairperson Angela Perry it was “an inspiring paradigm shift in the industry”.
“With kind support from smart and generous people within the architecture world and with great trust from forward-thinking investors, partners, advisors, and of course the residents themselves, Nightingale began to chip away at transforming Australia's housing system, one building at a time,” Perry said.
Dwellings are sold “at cost”, which factors in the price of procurement, design, management and construction, with no profit margin added.
They are sold with a caveat that cost savings be passed on to the next owners. But a source recently told The Urban Developer a number of Nightingale 1.0 apartments had been sold at record-breaking prices in Brunswick.
Nightingale Housing chair Angela Perry said the original licensing model had been “great in theory” but was not delivering results.
“Of the 33 licenses that were issued to architects around the country, only a handful of projects were realised,” Perry said.
“This was in part due to the difficult nature of raising capital: many architects who were ready to embark on their first Nightingale project struggled to secure funding.”
Perry said the Nightingale team had seen the potential for having a bigger impact and scale as a social enterprise.
“This organisational structure enabled us to establish a talented project delivery team in-house that could raise the required equity and finance for each project, acquire sites in the right areas, and engage architects that delivered incredible projects on time and on budget,” she said.
“The shift away from the licensing models means that the in-house Nightingale team now handles all aspects of project delivery – from site acquisition, securing funding, construction delivery, and community engagement, all the way to handing over the keys.
“This takes risk and pressure off architects and ensures a smoother delivery."
Maynard has claimed the newly-minted not-for-profit entity was lacking an experienced chief executive and a diverse membership and board of directors that reflected the community. Maynard suggested a resident of Nightingale should be on the board.
He also claimed there was bias towards one of the founding architect’s firms who had won most of the projects in the past four years, and there was a lack of transparency across the organisation.
Nightingale Housing has rebuffed Maynard’s claims saying that the organisation had achieved not-for-profit status, which was now enshrined in its constitution and precluded it from monetising the projects it built.
Nightingale chair Angela Perry said Nightingale and Breathe co-founders and members Jeremy McLeod and Tamara Veltre were not involved in the selection process for architects for each project to ensure there was no conflict of interest.
She said the board of directors also received a detailed brief on each project to ensure independent review and oversight. She rejected assertions that the board was lacking in diversity.
Perry has thrown her support behind managing director Jeremy McLeod and said strict protocols had ensured there were no conflicts of interest, and that McLeod, at his own request, received a concessional salary of $60,000.
Nightingale Village is a future carbon neutral residential precinct on Duckett St at Brunswick, which includes projects with Austin Maynard, Kennedy Nolan, Architecture Architecture, Clare Cousins Architects, Breathe, and Hayball.
Maynard has said he would be outlining the demise of Nightingale Housing in a letter he has sent to his lawyers.