Shared space in contemporary housing: Design research experiments towards a more resilient Melbourne

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The need for a greater diversity of housing options in Australia continues to
escalate, as our major cities simultaneously contend with unprecedented rates of
growth, changed modes of living and a fledgling mainstream housing market.
Shared space is emerging as a lynchpin for delivering dwelling alternatives to the
unsustainable, inflexible, and cost-prohibitive development models that dominate Melbourne’s housing supply. For example, shared amenity and services in higher density housing can increase the quality of urban redevelopment outcomes and decrease the ongoing cost of living for residents. Yet many of the benefits achieved through the design of shared domestic spaces are not permissible under current planning regulations. Similarly, service efficiencies delivered at a collective-level are not easily achieved in a mainstream housing market geared towards individual ownership. New possibilities for sharing personal assets have come about with the advent of the global Sharing Economy. However these digital infrastructures are having unintended social and physical impacts for urban housing. The success of home-sharing platforms like Airbnb, for example, is diminishing the locational and financial choices available to Melbourne’s long-term renters.

This paper brings together a range of design research that explores the design
opportunities and challenges of shared domestic space undertaken by academics
at Monash University. Operating across the scales of room, building, neighbourhood and metropolis, the authors demonstrate how speculative design
and spatial analysis inflect on the social, financial and policy frameworks that
underpin residential development outcomes in Melbourne. The body of work spans doctoral research, commissioned research, competitive grants and built projects. Together, the projects suggest how digital infrastructures could be
instrumentalised through spatial design to positive effect, supporting a greater
diversity of dwellings, new kinds of shared interactions and potential policy formation to steward Melbourne’s growth towards 9 million.


ConferenceReal/Material/Ethereal: Exhibition of the Annual Design Research Conference 2019
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  • shared space
  • housing
  • sharing economy
  • design practice
  • design research

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