“Good housing, not just any housing”: the institute calls for architectural participation in the new housing bill

Australian Institute Architects must be engaged to ensure design innovation and sustainability are at the forefront of the planned $10 billion Australian Housing Future Fund (HAFF), following a political agreement between Labor and the Greens to pass the bill in the Senate, say architects.

On Monday, September 11, Green Party leader Adam Bandt announced his support for the fund, which proposes to deliver 30,000 affordable rental homes within five years.

National Institute president Stuart Tanner said any new housing developed under the planned legislation would have to meet climate and liveability requirements to ensure durability and longevity.

He said it was essential that the quality of homes delivered was not compromised or affected by quantity and any associated time pressures.

“We need good housing, not just any housing,” Tanner said.

“People deserve livable housing, which is more than just a roof over one’s head. This housing must be of high quality construction that serves not only this generation, but future generations. This is an essential aspect of sustainability.”

Anne Street Garden Villas by Anna O'Gorman Architect have received the National Award for Mixed Housing at the 2022 National Architecture Awards.

Anne Street Garden Villas by Anna O’Gorman Architect have received the National Award for Mixed Housing at the 2022 National Architecture Awards.

Photo: Christopher Frederick Jones

Involving registered architects throughout the development process will help ensure designs are future-oriented and durable, Tanner said.

“Architects are developing housing that focuses on livability,” he said.

“Our members are design professionals, and they know how to get the most out of a budget through sustainable and cost-effective guidance, materials and designs. Architects also have the professional experience to manage the entire process, including construction.

The institute rejected calls for shortcuts and watered down design methods, saying that sacrificing quality would ultimately lead to increased costs in the long run.

“Money will not be saved if the building requires major modifications to the building due to poor material selection, routing or execution in the construction phase,” Tanner said.

The Institute invited federal ministers to present examples of architecturally designed social and affordable housing models that included functional, flexible and sustainable design elements.

St Albans Housing by NMBW Architecture Studio in collaboration with Monash Art, Design and Architecture (MADA) has received national acclaim at the 2022 National Architecture Awards.

St Albans Housing by NMBW Architecture Studio in collaboration with Monash Art, Design and Architecture (MADA) has received national acclaim at the 2022 National Architecture Awards.

Photo: Peter Bennetts

“Having grown up in state housing, the Prime Minister will be amazed at what social and affordable housing designed by today’s architects can provide,” Tanner said.

“We will be inviting Anthony Albanese and Julie Collins to visit the fantastic work our members do. The value of good design goes beyond aesthetics. Good design ensures resilient communities.

“Architects are positive, innovative and adaptable. We strive to future-proof our built environment for quality and longevity. Do it once and do it well.”

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