Pitching in to Make a Difference

Several organisations have come together, in a collaborative effort, to provide new solutions for affordable housing for people living with disabilities. A national competition between architecture students from four universities: Bond University, Griffith University, The University of New South Wales and The University of Melbourne, concluded at the beginning of December 2014.

The ultimate aim of the ‘Whole of Life: Whole of Use’ Competition is to bring saleable cost-effective design to the market. Entrants were encouraged to be open and creative, but at the same time practical and rational, when designing liveable space suitable for disabled and fully abled people, promoting independent living as well as social inclusion.

The University of New South Wales was selected as the winner of both categories, for medium and low density housing. Griffith University medium density design was Highly Commended and was also awarded the Sustainability Prize.

Mike Myers (CEO) and Professor George Earl (Chairman), from the not for profit organisation National Affordable Housing Consortium (NAHC), came up with a competition idea following the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Both recognised the new reforms represent a milestone in Australian social policy which will see a substantial improvement in the quality of life for thousands of people with a disability, through the provision of tailored supports and services. New creative thinking was needed around the design of affordable homes.

After contacting industry colleagues to gauge their level of interest, and then encouraged by the willingness to support the idea, the ‘NDIS Design Competition – Whole of Life, Whole of Use’ was launched in August 2014. Housing organisations, property developers, architects, disability agencies and government departments joined arms and the competition was organised.

Seven competition judges, from diverse disciplines, generously donated their time. Leading the judging panel was Professor George Earl, the recent Dean of the Institute of Sustainable Development and Architecture at Bond University. He was joined by Kevin McMahon the Director of Marketing and Regulation of NDIA, Eloise Atkinson Director of Deicke Richards Architects, Craig McHardy Director of WT Partnership, Amelia Starr Executive Director of Livable Housing Australia, Dr Tom Alves Senior Adviser at the Office of the Victorian Government Architect and Alan Tupicoff the Executive Director for GPM: Asia Pacific.

Further support was provided by Australand Property Group, the Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and the Victorian Department of Human Services who have provided information regarding high density and low density sites. Having specific site information gave the university students the opportunity to fully develop their designs taking into account actual site benefits and constraints.

Overall, the submissions were of high quality. The awarded teams followed the brief very carefully and demonstrated sophisticated thinking and clarity behind the design. With functionality as a key to good design, all homes in the wining submissions are designed to Livable Housing Australia Platinum Level, providing very high level of accessibility. The concept of sustainable living, rather than sustainable housing is the focus of the wining designs. Thought has been given to replicability, deliverability, flexibility and usability.

NAHC would like to thank the participating Universities and all stakeholders for their contributions during this competition. NAHC would also like to congratulate the University of New South Wales on wining the Competition. Awards Ceremony will be held at the beginning of February (date to be confirmed) in NSW.
For more information contact:

Daniela Weatherill of Queensland Affordable Housing Consortium Ltd trading as National Affordable Housing Consortium on:

M: 0409 479 553
E: daniela@nahc.org.au
T: 07 3169 2500