Urban History Planning History Conference 2020: Alysia Bennett on ‘Right Sizing’ Housing

  • Alysia Bennett

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In this episode of This Must Be The Place Elizabeth reports from Launceston, Tasmania, from the Urban History Planning History conference. (Listeners should also note a subsequent TMBTP interview with Nick Phelps at the same conference, who offers a different take on how to pronounce ‘Launceston’). As well as hearing from the UTas historic tram that periodically trundles through the expansive campus car park, in this instalment we hear from Alysia Bennett about her conference presentation and ongoing work on ‘right sizing: addressing housing challenges through activating marginal spaces, conditions and rules’. Right sizing, a concept Alysia and others have been developing, refers to working within existing houses to enable upsizing and downsizing simultaneously. Without necessarily creating a new fabric, ‘right sizing’ is about creating small and large dwellings at the same time, with houses that can switch between the two. Part of this is historically grounded - looking at how parts of Australian cities are already being used as forms of covert density, for example with the integration of secondary dwellings, dual occupancies and subtly-tucked apartments into historic areas like Battery Point in Hobart. These include additional dwellings that ‘stealth’ themselves as garages in terms of their presentation to the street, exploiting the fact that garages and parking spaces tend to be invisible to and automatically accepted by both people and planning rules. Alysia’s work has shifted from looking at ways to increase density through apartments (the predominant policy interest in density in Australian cities), toward finding existing examples of density within low-rise urban and suburban areas – looking for design and regulatory opportunities that build on better elements of what people are currently doing incrementally. We hear ideas about who might benefit from right-sized housing; how house layouts can work with alignments of things like doors and wet areas; the role of monetising housing space; and models of ‘plug-in’ ageing-in-place facilities like accessible bathrooms. Alysia is a Lecturer at MADA, Monash University. The Right Sizing project is ongoing and also involves Professor Dana Cuff of UCLA and Damian Madigan of UniSA.

Period7 Feb 2020

Media contributions


Media contributions


LocationUniversity of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
Period5 Feb 2020 → 7 Feb 2020