A $40,000 nationwide design competition is set to showcase next-generation urban housing in Australia.
Industry professionals and tertiary students alike are being challenged to design a new style of home with wellness, innovation, affordability and sustainability at heart in Lake Macquarie City Council’s dWELL design competition.
The competition has two categories: one for professional architects and building designers, the other for teams comprising at least one university architecture student.
Laura Kendall, council’s director of organisational services, says the competition will bring together creative minds from the cream of Australia’s building industry and academia.
“We want to work with the best and brightest innovators in property development, design, technology and other industry sectors,” Kendall said.
“This competition will demonstrate how homes for tomorrow can be built today, without a premium price tag.”
In many parts of Australia, Kendall says, there is a gap between the kind of housing that exists, and the housing people prefer.
“It’s not just families with two or three kids any more, and we’re often missing really innovative options for low-rise, medium density, semi-detached housing or townhouses.
“We want to see if modern construction methods and materials and great design can combine to overcome the perception that the only ways you can have a beautiful house is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of your time managing your home,” Kendall said.
The dWELL judging panel will comprise Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW chief executive Steven Mann, Planning Institute of Australia NSW president Juliet Grant, University of Newcastle head of architecture Chris Tucker and former contestants from the 2014 television series “The Block”, Maxine and Karstan Smith.
Tucker says he’ll be looking for designs that reflect an understanding of not only where we live, but how we live.
“With both of these, it might look radically different to the houses we typically build at the moment,” he says.
Kendall agrees there is a divide between mainstream new housing options and the needs and desires of modern homeowners.
“It’s challenging if you’re a developer to convince your financiers or investors that doing something different from what made you a profit last time is a risk worth taking—so, as a council, we think it’s our role to show that it is.
“But it’s not a huge risk—if it’s done right, customers will love it, they’ll buy it, and you can still make a lot of money from more diverse, more innovative, more sustainable, wellness-promoting housing—it’s not that big a stretch.”
Manager property and business development David Antcliff says that with projected demand for 13,500 new homes in Lake Macquarie in the next 16 years—and the recent launch of council’s new housing strategy—now is the time to think outside the square in creating better housing options.
“We want to give a platform to the ideas that have been bubbling around in the back of designers’ heads.
“All too often, a client’s brief is very specific about what they want to achieve, how a building will look or how it will perform, and this thinking generally comes from the past,” Antcliff said.
“We want to give creative professionals and students some freedom to design homes of the future that are focused on making people’s lives better.”
Entrants will first submit an expression of interest and description of their intended design, based on an existing vacant, council-owned block in the coastal suburb of Dudley.
Entries selected for stage two will share in a $10,000 prize pool and will be invited to create a more detailed submission.
Antcliff says council will consider building the winning design on the prime hilltop site, to be managed as part of council’s asset portfolio.
“There’s not a lot of inspiration in the ‘if it ’ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality,” he says.
“We want to see a design or combination of strategies that seamlessly combines function and form.”
“That means a design that considers the person, their activities, climate, wellbeing and community, and a design that allows us to spend our time doing what we choose, not running and maintaining our homes.
“Winners and shortlisted stage two entries will share in a $30,000 prize pool, but there is an incentive here far greater than the cash reward,” Antcliff said.
“Winning entries will be showcased nationally as an example of what is possible, what is practical and what is affordable in providing next-generation housing for all Australians.”
“They will also provide a benchmark for us here at council as we continue to grow our city and make it a place where our built environment evolves with our lifestyle.”
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser says the dWELL concept aligns with council’s housing strategy, which aims to “facilitate and guide housing design and innovation”.
“As a city, we need to respond to, and advocate for, new and emerging housing types that meet changing household needs,” Fraser said.
“I’m excited about what we are going to see with entries, and where it will take us with housing in years to come.”
Go to lakemac.com.au/development/dwell for more information.
The Urban Developer is proud to partner with Lake Macquarie City to deliver this article to you. In doing so, we can continue to publish our free daily news, information, insights and opinion to you, our valued readers.