Density and Diversity Competition

Biscoe Wilson Architects entered the Density and Diversity Done Well Competition, hosted by the Department of Housing and Public Works Queensland Government. This competition challenged competitors to adapt a typical neighbourhood block (containing 20 dwellings housing a total of 60 people) by retaining, raising, moving or demolishing these existing dwellings to house more people in the same place with good amenity. Our submission was titled ‘ The Greenway’, putting a focus on the environment and liveability intrinsic to the Queensland lifestyle while in the pursuit of creating urban density.

Finding a solution for “the missing middle” is a difficult challenge; the development of the 6pack in the 1960’s provided an affordable housing solution that increased density, however these forms were aesthetically brutal and lacked usable outdoor space. The Rex Pack (Rex Addison solution) of the 1980’s provided a softer 2-storey solution however the dominance of garages and lack of community outdoor space was not yet resolved.

The Greenway solution enables dual allotments (approximately 13,500 square metres) to be economically developed to provide safe, healthy and diverse living solutions. Increasing density from 2 single houses to 15 dwellings while maintaining generous semi-private outdoor spaces and a diverse range of housing solutions. Three primary buildings ranging from 1-5 storeys (including common roof terraces) are arranged strategically to provide increased density while maintaining high quality outdoor spaces. Unlike other current higher density solutions that concentrate on providing enclosed living spaces, the Greenway retains the green outdoor spaces Queenslanders are accustomed to.

Car-parking has been moved below buildings, and offers a reduced car-parking ratio of 1.2 cars per dwelling. Deep planting areas under green spaces will allow for successful landscape solutions. Large storage areas in the basement provide residents additional space for the general bric-a-brac of life. This model requires that developers work within the specified building format to maintain ideal natural light and ventilation, and green space to building proportions.

This system will maintain the ‘block wide’ environmental outcome in the case of full development of an entire suburban block. Customisation of the building, articulation and apartmentdesign, apartment mix, and materials is possible to enable each development to be tailored to the target market. Conversely, hit and miss insertions of the Greenway model within typical low density suburban development would not be out of place or scale.

The Greenway could be developed under the “Nightingale” model as used in Victoria. Architects, landowners, home purchasers and investors can team up to develop an individual solution to suit the particular group and site. The Greenway solution incorporates a healthy social mix of housing solutions and usable outdoor spaces. Apartment sizes and configurations can be varied, using shell and core/ fit-out solutions. Components to be maintained include the SOHO / shop and Fonzie Flat over the community shed. The front play garden and rear vegetable/community garden and community roof terraces are also key components that are not negotiable. The community shed adjacent the vegetable garden and shop/home office at the street front enables opportunities for creativity, entrepreneurship and social interaction.

All dwellings are naturally ventilated and well lit by natural daylight. All dwellings have private outdoor spaces as well as access to semi-private community spaces. The development allows for a wide range of occupants of differing ages, wealth and physical and social abilities. The aim is to allow a vibrant social mix of people and to provide spaces for social interaction.

The Greenway is a feasible economic model that could increase suburban density from 27 dwelling per hectare with a site cover of 27% to a density of 179 dwellings per hectare with a site cover of 33%, while maintaining the much loved green back yard and injecting more diverse occupation.

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