Alternative Housing Models to Tackle Sydney’s Affordability Crisis

Pop-up shelters in vacant buildings, smart houses with eye scanners and low-cost ownership options are some of the cutting-edge concepts nominated concerning the City of Sydney’s housing challenge.

The jury chose seven submissions for innovative concepts for alternative housing models to boost the availability of affordable homes in the city and lessen housing stress.

Two hundred and thirty submissions from around the world were pared down to only ten finalists as part of a worldwide competition that sought new approaches to housing distribution, finance, administration, construction, ownership, and design.

Other cities’ practical, socially sustainable approaches, such as inventive uses of space and novel financial arrangements, are among the choices available to this city.

Everyone from real estate experts, architects, and designers to academics, researchers, and students participated in the challenge. Those selected for further development will receive $30,000 to assist in influencing the city’s future approach to housing.

According to the Lord Mayor, there is a shortage of affordable housing in Sydney, but they need various housing options to meet the city’s diverse population.

Since 2003, the city has collected levies from developers and sold their property to affordable housing providers at a discount to aid in the building of 835 new affordable housing apartments. 

Teachers, nurses, and paramedics may live closer to their places of employment thanks to this cheap housing, improving their well-being, reducing commute time, and easing traffic congestion.

He said this is a tried-and-true technique that isn’t enough for him. Low-income employees, elderly inhabitants, and families in their community all have unique requirements that you must address.

As a result of the wide range of proposals submitted, the shortlist was expanded from six to seven, in addition to the federal and state governments’ ongoing support for social and affordable housing.

They were pleased to present their final selection of alternative and inexpensive housing alternatives to satisfy the requirements of their community and the world, as well as their own. They believe that successful projects may be replicated and scaled up in the future and that they can serve as lessons learned.

Introducing the 7 Finalists 

  • Eddie Ma, a co-founder of the Sydney-based spatial design company Vigilanti, proposed an idea for inexpensive housing based on equity. Innovations in finance and ownership types help make this paradigm affordable.
  • Architects Joe and Vakil of in situ Design in the United States, and professors at the University of Kansas, have created a smart home in Kansas that monitors its residents and collects data to help offset their costs.
  • Urban Apostles, an urban consulting and property development firm specialising in creative city planning and alternative housing, has established a regulatory framework for metropolitan land trusts with Western Sydney University researcher Dr Louise Crabtree.
  • Robert Pradolin, founder and director of Housing All Australians, came up with the idea for temporary pop-up shelters that repurpose buildings to give emergency and transitional housing in short to medium term. These shelters are temporary and can be set up anywhere.
  • An Appropriately Scaled Service Dr Alysia Bennett of Monash University, Dr Damian Madigan of the University of South Australia and Dr Dana Cuff of UCLA’s cityLAB and Monash University came up with the idea. They want to provide homeowners with the ability to modify the size and purpose of their homes as their circumstances change.
  • Panov and Scott of panovscott architects and Alexander Symes of Alexander Symes Architects are the brains behind the Pixel Project, which aims to create radically affordable dwellings despite their high amenities and amenities designed to match how people live in the city today more closely.
  • Katherine Sundermann, an associate director at Alexis Kalagas, MGS Architects, an urban strategist, and Andy Fergus, an urban designer, have collaborated to develop a cooperative housing model that adapts the Zurich—non-profit build-to-rent—model to the setting of Sydney.

The Various Models Adopted by the 7 Finalists 

Eddie Ma, one of the co-founders of Vigilanti, is working on a model for equity housing in which they investigate new forms of finance and ownership that might make housing more accessible for those with moderate and low incomes.

Within the framework of a flexible rental model, the approach enables a combination of lifetime leases, affordable housing, and social housing.

According to Mr Ma, their primary goal was to provide more individuals who are in need with a permanent home that is both inexpensive and of good quality.

As an alternative to perpetual ownership, he said that impact investors with a socially conscious mindset should consider investing in projects with a maximum return and providing housing as part of a leasehold ownership arrangement for a lifetime lease agreement. We think that the paradigm of equitable housing has the potential to deliver some measure of relief to the dire affordability problem that we are now facing.

Colistra and Vakil from Kansas submitted a design for an intelligent house prototype in Sydney. The design demonstrates the importance of digital infrastructure in the housing debate as bricks and mortar. The idea is to use gadgets to keep tabs on the building’s occupants while also collecting and selling the data collected.

Mr Colistra said that the ‘Smart Home Sydney’ provides economical solutions while delivering facilities and services to flourish at every stage of life.

He went on to say that smart cities,’ a futuristic concept from science fiction, are not as far off as you would think. The intelligent house prototype offers a glimpse into the future and helps build communities that last a lifetime.

Urban Apostles’ founder Jason Twill and Western Sydney University scholar Dr Louise have written a joint contribution on community land trusts, which are private non-profit organisations that retain property titles for the benefit of the community.

As Dr Crabtree put it, they can’t solve their cities’ housing affordability problems unless they examine their relationship to and governance of land. It’s not a problem of design, and it’s a problem of location.

Land trusts established by communities are non-profit organisations that aim to keep housing affordable for all future generations. A Sydney-wide community land trust policy should allow for egalitarian and creative development options to be scaled up. Sydney’s future prosperity depends on addressing the effect of rising property prices on affordability.

With his concept for pop-up shelters in underutilised, abandoned buildings, former Frasers Property Australia general manager and creator of the not-for-profit Housing All Australians, Robert Pradolin, offers an urgent remedy to the housing issue. The private sector, in particular enterprises in the construction industry, would offer interim repurposing of these buildings at minimum or no cost, ensuring that the shelter is both liveable and compliant with building rules.

Mr Pradolin said the buildings would be renovated for short-term transitional and crisis accommodation.

There are no long-term solutions here, only short-term ones for a distressed city. Building a thriving and wealthy nation requires equal access to decent housing for everybody, affluent or poor.

A proposal from the Right Size Service team would enable people to adjust the size and function of their homes as their circumstances change.

According to Dr Bennett, the proposal’s architectural strategy is on downsizing and remodelling.

When homeowners are offered financial and property management options that complement the Right Size strategy, they are more likely to build new infill homes inside their current homes. Unlike downsizing, a rightsized house is a suitable size and expense to fit your family and your changing demands and circumstances over time.

For the Pixel Project, a feeling of community is created by having large common spaces filled with brightly coloured pixels. A pixel is a 16-square-meter room with an ensuite and storage, basically a single private room.

Individuals would band together to spend 30 percent or more of their yearly income to construct a pixel project. A family can add or sell pixels during their lives.

According to Mr Scott, the essential benefit of a Pixel Project is that it offers a manner of living that is more in line with how city dwellers choose to live. Incorporating new spatial and ownership arrangements might result in a long-term, high-quality kind of housing that is both inexpensive and environmentally sound.

Katherine Sundermann, Alexis Kalagas, and Andy Fergus developed the “Third Way,” a cooperative housing model modelled by successful ones in Zurich.

Low-interest loans and commercial mortgages would be used to fund the project, designed and funded by the members.

Non-profit build-to-rent housing, as proposed by Ms Sundermann, can change Sydney’s housing supply by giving a third option between renting and buying. Residents would benefit from more rent stability while securing a lower rate than the market.

The housing challenge registrar, Stephen Varady, chaired an impartial jury that evaluated all submissions.

A total of $400,000 will be allocated over the following five months to help the seven chosen concepts forward to the next stage of development.

In November and December, the public will get to provide their thoughts on the selected proposals.