St Albans Housing

Nigel Bertram (Architect), Marika Neustupny (Architect), Lucinda McLean (Architect), Shane Murray (Architect), Deborah Rowe (Artist), Holly Board (Architect), Laura Harper (Architect), Marie Le Touze (Architect)

Research output: Non-textual formDesign / ArchitectureResearch


Research Background
St Albans Housing sought to create replicable contemporary community housing on a standard single allotment in Melbourne’s middle-ring suburbs, that was achievable within current regulations and within an economic framework of ‘affordable housing’. The project started with the premise that improved apartment living could be offered to those with limited mobility, who arguably spend more time at home and for whom quality of internal and private external space is potentially more critical. While the design focused on meeting the needs of the elderly, it aimed to offer alternative suburban apartment typologies relevant to a range of contemporary, non-nuclear household structures.

Research Contribution
St Albans Housing offers quality community housing with flexibility for a variety of changing needs. Each of the six, single-level warehouse-style apartments feature non-structural partitions and joinery allowing simple subdivision and rearrangement within their outer shell for customization to individual needs. The spaces are suited to wheeled movement, with hoists and other equipment able to be supported from concrete floors above. Each apartment’s internal arrangement is focused on providing the largest possible area of high-quality space. Bathrooms are given the same high level considerations as living rooms or workspaces – in recognition of the extended periods of time that residents and carers may spend in them. Communal lift lobbies and carparks, shared bin and storage areas are carefully designed to encourage interaction between residents.

Research Significance
St Albans Housing was part of an ARC funded project led by Monash University with Housing Choices Australia. It received a commendation in the 2022 National Architecture Awards for Residential Architecture, Multiple Housing. It won the award in the same category of the 2022 Victorian Architecture awards where the jury citation stated: ‘Within an economic context that is extremely difficult to negotiate, this (project) has delivered a flexible and dignified community housing model that focuses on the residents’ spatial agency and wellbeing…the design anticipates many modes of living and changes in household circumstance, and is supported by a sophisticated communal strategy.”
Original languageEnglish
PublisherRoyal Australian Institute of Architects
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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