The fundamentals of good affordable housing design are showcased in the practice’s recent Blackwattle Apartments, Boronia Apartments and Bigge Street projects. Successful affordable housing should seamlessly weave into the broader community, provide ample opportunity for personalisation within apartments and spend money where it counts.
Director Dan Szwaj says that design shapes the quality of life for affordable housing residents. One of the key design drivers of TURNER’s affordable housing projects is the idea of ‘blind tenure’.
“Blind tenure means affordable housing should look no different to other housing. It should be equal to, or even better than, regular market housing,” he says.
“We want these residents to love where they live. They’re already at a disadvantage. We don’t want their homes to look like what you would traditionally expect from affordable housing, or have any stigma attached to them because that impacts the surrounding community’s attitudes towards residents. ‘Stitching’ the building and residents into the broader community is really important.”
Affordable housing projects in the pipeline.
Blackwattle Apartments, developed by City West Housing, delivers dedicated affordable housing as part of the Glebe Affordable Housing Project Cowper Street redevelopment that replaced a number of dilapidated social housing flats with a mix of social, affordable and market apartments.
Following the success of Blackwattle Apartments, TURNER is again working with City West Housing to deliver its new Boronia Apartments project in Waterloo, set to begin construction in mid 2023. The development will provide housing for those in need, with around a third of all apartments dedicated to women and their children escaping domestic and family violence.
Dan says designing affordable housing is a delicate balance between providing high amenity for residents and being conscious of budgetary constraints.
“The last thing we want is for someone to miss out on the opportunity for housing. If we were to embellish housing projects by spending money where it wasn’t needed, that would mean less funding for future projects, which could result in someone missing out on a home,” he says.
Dan suggests it’s important to invest in small features that make a real difference in the way people live and help to create a sense of home. This includes providing ample storage, and simple things like hooks, alcoves and bookcases for personal belongings. He says it’s also important to embed design initiatives like maximising the number of naturally ventilated apartments through to solar panels, that go directly to reducing residents’ power bills and living costs.
As early as 2009, the team began working on its Telopea Social Housing project, which was recognised in 2013 with a design award by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) NSW, a rare accolade for projects of this nature. The practice’s Washington Park project was also commended by the AIA in 2014, for its progressive design which combined affordable and market housing. TURNER’s more recent social housing project, Bigge Street, received the 2023 AIA NSW Premier’s Prize and award for Architecture in Multiple Housing.
Director Stephen Cox says Bigge Street’s recognition by the design industry is an indication that the project is designed to the same high standards as private apartments.
“The project works with the urban context and is an exemplar of what is possible in a suburban setting while still working with the specific requirements of social housing.”
Dan and Stephen both agree that affordable housing is a vital part of Sydney’s housing mix.
“Our communities and cities thrive on diversity,” Dan says. “Affordable housing celebrates the very best parts of that diversity and embeds it into our city. We’re lucky that the City of Sydney is quite forward-thinking when it comes to delivering well-designed affordable housing and we look forward to helping many other people into homes they love in coming years.”
Explore our affordable housing projects
March 6, 2023
Adressing an urgent need for social housing in Liverpool - Bigge Street delivers high quality and cost-effective design simultaneously.
Bigge Street Interiors
February 28, 2023
Social housing showcasing the possibility of providing high-quality and cost-effective affordable design outcomes simultaneously.
February 15, 2023
A unique residential precinct that blends private and build to rent affordable housing options to give back to the wider community in the growing Sydney suburb of Miranda.
February 28, 2023
Blending private and build to rent essential worker housing that gives back to the wider community, with an emphasis on space, finishes and detail.
June 30, 2023
Boronia Apartments are in the heart of Waterloo, providing affordable housing for residents on very low to moderate incomes in inner Sydney.
February 28, 2023
An award-winning affordable housing development in Inner Sydney, that responds to Glebe's historic neighbourhood character.
March 20, 2023
A multi-phase redevelopment of existing Housing New South Wales and Council lands to deliver a new park-side masterplan. Featuring private and social housing units, a network of new streets, a 'village square' and a library.