Current Issue #488

Australia's Quiet Housing Revolution on Show

Australia's Quiet Housing Revolution on Show

A quiet revolution is happening in housing development in Australia. Housing affordability, urban sprawl, climate change and evolving lifestyle are prompting us to re-examine conventional development models and challenge housing stereotypes.

The results of these explorations demonstrate the potential to transform the way housing, particularly in urban contexts, is conceived, funded and designed across the country.

With announcements of significant new redevelopment proposals in our city and suburbs and the ongoing development of the new South Australian planning system, there is a great deal of interest in trying to push the boundaries of the current speculative housing market and look beyond to alternative development models.

Can we spark innovation and influence the arrangement of landscape, open space and off-street parking to create better neighbourhoods? How do we harness the potential of existing, valued buildings through adaptive reuse and provide the ability to age in a familiar place? Can we strengthen communities and foster social interaction through designs that embrace shared facilities as well as providing quality private space?

Our architecture community has been engaging with great interest. An Architecture on Show event at Port Adelaide on Saturday, September 2 examined our capacity to design spaces that create community and reshape the way we engage with finance and procurement to improve housing quality and affordability. Featuring Dr Damian Madigan, a winner of the NSW Missing Middle competition held this year, and architect Damien Chwalisz, an innovator of shipping container conversions, Architecture on Show provided an opportunity to engage with two leading Adelaide proponents of future housing opportunities and participate in the debate regarding housing choices.

We’ll also be exploring these themes during the Festival of Architecture and Design (FAD) in October. Some events will look at past housing models that challenge us to think beyond current conventions. A tour through North Adelaide icon Deepacres, designed by the renowned architect Jack Hobbs McConnell, will leave participants questioning how much space they really need to achieve an enviable lifestyle. A retrospective of the work of Newell Platten and Robert Dickson which will shine a light on their intense oeuvre of architectural output from the 1960s, ‘70s, ’80s and ‘90s and provide a commentary on our evolving expectations and aspirations through this period.

Jack Hobbs McConnell’s Deepacres apartments in North Adelaide

In addition to looking at the lessons of the past, we will be proposing opportunities for the future. Citizen-led housing researcher Jasmine Palmer will examine developments that enable households to self-organise multi-unit housing for their own use.

Drawing inspiration from overseas and interstate a panel will discuss how, with the help of family, friends and other community-minded households, citizens are realising housing projects which both build and regenerate cities and communities.

Together with Shelter SA we’ll also explore the Big Idea in housing diversity by bringing together disciplines and organisations that may not traditionally work together to discuss the areas that affect us most — infrastructure, housing, social impact investment and employment in South Australia. This event will explore how citizens can be involved and lead the way to building our future cities.

Full Festival of Architecture & Design program and ticketing available at

Nicolette Di Lernia, Executive Director, Australian Institute of Architects


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