Gresley Abas designs new social housing project in Brisbane
In National Homelessness Week, Gresley Abas is proud to announce that we have been engaged to design a new public housing complex in the Brisbane suburb of Zilmere, about 15 km north of the CBD.
We are committed to the effort to end homelessness – and as architects we are well placed to contribute energy and skills towards this issue – and we applaud the Queensland government’s significant investment in new social housing projects at sites across Brisbane.
This project builds upon our successful entry in the 2017 Density and Diversity Done Well ideas competition, and, while it relates to a specific site, it responds to universal issues about the provision of housing for people across the socio-economic spectrum.
“This is a national conversation, arguably a global conversation,” says GA Director Ahmad Abas, who is leading this project. “Our concept went to the heart of questioning a range of assumptions that have underpinned the idea of what the Australian home should be.
“These include: ‘Should we all continue to dream of the single house on a quarter block?’ and ‘Do we expect to all own one car per household, or could we share? And do we need garages for all these vehicles?’”
Our latest project questions other assumptions too, around the provision of guest accommodation, individual vegetable gardens, even private washing lines and BBQ areas, and proposes instead to use clever design to create small housing clusters where people living in ‘logical’ communities can share these facilities.
“What benefits and economies of scale can we achieve when four or six households are willing to share the cost of broadband, solar power and batteries, water storage and onsite wastewater treatment?” Ahmad asks. “The term ‘Missing Middle’ has been the common currency for the core of this conversation. It is a deeply significant idea whose place in the lexicon of Australian housing typology needs to investigated, tested and prototyped.”
Director Philip Gresley says that these ideas are not new concepts within Gresley Abas, which was founded 15 years ago and now has offices in Perth and Melbourne.
“We have been immersed with and intrigued by the ‘Missing Middle’ long before it was given that name,” Philip says. “We have built up a wealth of understanding of the incremental assumptions, financial and planning frameworks that have stunted the potential for this kind of housing typology to grow to its full potential.”
“This is why, as a practice, we have been involved at the higher levels of planning and government policy making, so that we can unlock the potential of this and other important innovations in housing for the future.”
“Every location requires a regional response to – and recognition of – specific local conditions,” Philip adds. “This extends to environment, climate and the prevailing context. Because we are working with social housing agencies across Australia, we also have profound socio-economic and demographic factors to consider as well.”
Ahmad says this Queensland government project is significant because it will test the implications of this conversation with real demonstrable outcomes. “Gresley Abas is excited and feels privileged to be a part of this initiative,” he says.
For all these reasons, and the fact that this is Gresley Abas’ first project in Queensland, this is an important project.
“As a national practice, we have a great deal to contribute to this and other important conversations throughout Australia,” Ahmad says. “We are passionate about making a difference to many of the pressing issues of our time: reconciliation, housing, climate change, equality, inter-generational communities, diversity and collective housing, to name but a few.”