This study explored opportunities for housing diversity in Munster, a suburb south of Fremantle, Western Australia. The typical dwelling in Munster is a detached single house on a 600sqm lot. The study and concept designs have been prepared by CODA for LandCorp and are the result of research and testing to find viable opportunities for multiple housing on a single lot.
The designs also needed to provide demographically diverse and affordable housing options as well as respond to the scale and grain of the accepted suburban pattern of the surrounding area. The designs evolved from an exploration of the ‘maisonette’ housing type which presents to the street at an integrated, suburban-scale built form whilst accommodating multiple units. Whilst the designs respond to the specific site conditions of Lot 45 and Lots 52, 53, 54 of LandCorp’s Mayor Road subdivision, the study is intended to demonstrate the importance of a sympathetic and harmonious response to the site conditions, both physically and contextually.
Multiple Dwelling Opportunities
The new provisions in the amended Residential Design Codes (gazetted on 22nd November 2010) remove ‘minimum site area per dwelling’ controls for lots zoned R30 or greater, thus allowing smaller multiple dwellings to be built in areas where historically only single or group dwellings would have been allowed. Importantly, the new Code enables LandCorp to integrate one bedroom and two bedroom dwellings into subdivisions which previously imposed minimum dwelling sizes of 140sqm or greater. It allows us to consider a range of accommodation for a more diverse demographic than has been possible previously in Munster.
The new Code is more compatible with LandCorp’s two tiered strategy for affordable housing:
1. affordable housing facilitates both housing which is priced for key workers and households on low to moderate incomes, including social housing, and
2. affordable living which seeks to provide diverse, efficient housing stock with equitable access to community facilities and amenity.
Lot 45 can accommodate six dwellings. Lots 52, 53 and 54 would be amalgamated to enable a single lot of 10 dwellings. The dwellings range from 72sqm to 150sqm, each with generous outdoor living areas as well as the shared areas.
The site planning is integral to the success of the individual housing designs and the enjoyment of future occupants. Cardinal orientation maximises north solar access to the interior and exterior living spaces of each unit. The steep contours on the lots allow garages to be located at a lower level to the dwelling entrances, which frees up the shared spaces for landscaping and innovative uses such as a communal vegetable patch, tool shed, barbecue facilities and water tanks.
The floor areas and plans consider the life-cycle scenarios of young singles and couples who might be first home buyers; families; empty nesters; and retirees who might want to continue living in the area where their family home was located. Disabled occupants and visitors are also catered for with a disabled car bay on each lot and universal access to ground level units. The larger units also allow for more independent living for aged or teenage family members as well as flexible spaces which can be used for a home office, theatre room, study, play room or additional bedroom.
This has also been an opportunity to test and apply the sustainable design principles which LandCorp actively promotes to the new multiple dwelling code.
The designs address the notion of sustainable housing at four levels: climatic, environmental, social and economic. To be successful, the houses must perform successfully at each level and the design intent must be supported by decisions and practices made throughout the development and construction process.
These concepts for site planning and housing design could be readily adapted to other lots and site conditions. For example, the units could be rotated to take advantage of cardinal north-south orientation. A flat lot could have garaging located on the same level as the dwelling entrances.
To ensure that the design intent is not lost in the journey from design development to habitation, the development and construction process needs to be guided by ongoing review and assessment by LandCorp and the architect. A checklist of design guidelines would make this process more manageable for developers and builders as well as ensure that there is a consistent and clear interpretation of the intent by all parties.
The Mayor Road concept houses have the potential to make a significant contribution to the quality of multiple housing in Western Australian and can only benefit from developers and builders who share the design intent vision.