the worlds largest houses with a dwindling population makes no sense
Image: Canva.
  • Households are getting smaller, yet we still have the world's largest properties.
  • Thoughtfully designed apartments remain a key ingredient of the diverse housing mix.
  • It is particularly true where they provide convenient access to established transport infrastructure, shops, parks, cafes and places of employment.

A series of affordable housing thoughts and ideas by Perth’s leading architects continues with this piece by Alex Jones, with renders by Bloom Images and Hassell.

The fundamental question of “How much space do we actually need?” is key to tackling the issues of housing affordability and requires us to develop a different approach to planning for more homes over the coming years.

This year’s Perth Design Week (8 February to 29 March) has shone a bright light on one of the most pressing issues currently facing a large portion of Western Australian society and beyond: the acute shortage of good quality, affordable homes.

195 pier street perth wa is a build-to-rent project including significant amounts of social and affordable homes
Apartments are a key part of the housing diversity conversation.

Whilst the seemingly perfect storm of higher interest rates, increased cost of living, exorbitant construction costs associated with continued labour supply pressures and other factors continues to howl across our state and beyond, some of the potential answers to these problems have been illustrated by the beautifully curated exhibition entitled “WA Homes – S, M, L” at the Old Gaol, Museum Boola Bardip.

A series of projects by various Perth Architects show that the design profession can play an instrumental role in the delivery of high-quality spaces within smaller homes (S), medium density developments (M) and apartments (L).

As pointed out in the exhibition, it doesn’t make sense for Australia to continue to cling to the dubious title of having the largest homes in the world when household sizes are diminishing.

What we need is an honest and sensible conversation about how we can tackle the current supply crisis whilst planning for the long-term delivery of high-quality homes that have smaller footprints with environmentally sensitive designs.

Thoughtfully designed apartment living will always be a key ingredient of the diverse housing mix, especially when it provides convenient access to established transport infrastructure, shops, parks, cafes and places of employment.

Supplement this with a series of inviting communal spaces, extensive high-quality landscaping, generous private outdoor spaces and high levels of natural daylighting, a well-designed apartment can be a place that is a pleasure to come home to.

hassell and developmentwa to creat 195 pier street in perth
The 195 Pier Street project will include a significant percentage of social and affordable homes, as well as dedicated specialist disability accommodation.

These essential elements form the basis of Hassell’s 29 storey 195 Pier Street project in conjunction with DevelopmentWA for the operator Housing Choices WA.

195 Pier Street will be home to 219 build-to-rent apartments, with 20% comprising social homes and 30% affordable homes; the project also includes 10 specialist disability apartments.

This development, and others like it, have been made possible by the Federal Government’s “Housing Australia Future Fund Facility”, with further financial support from the State Government and other channels.

The project truly provides high quality housing for everyone. Crucially, all apartments are tenure blind that is each home has the same specification regardless of whether residents are key workers, professionals or those who have gained a foothold via the social housing (band A) waiting list. If a resident later becomes eligible for affordable housing (band B), they can remain in the same apartment without having to move.

Pier Street is an exciting project that ticks all the boxes but we need many others like it.

So, how much space do we actually need?

When our places and spaces are designed intelligently, the answer is “not as much as we think we do”.

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