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Queensland gets serious about medium density housing

The Queensland government is following NSW’s lead with a competition aiming to increase the stock of affordable medium density housing.

The Density and Diversity Done Well competition, a joint campaign by the Queensland  Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and the Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland, is looking for designs that are buildable, affordable and suitable to the South East Queensland and general Queensland context and climate.

Queensland planning minister Jackie Trad said the growth of the state came with challenges, one of which was meeting the need for diversity in housing.

“It can sometimes seem that housing in Queensland exists exclusively at very disparate ends of the spectrum, with the choice solely between high-rise, high-density living or free standing suburban family homes,” she said.

The competition, Ms Trad said, was about “challenging the status quo” and investigating “out of the box” ideas in relation to doing density well.

“We are looking for innovative and affordable ideas that will create both exciting places to live now and build great, sustainable neighbourhoods into the future.”

The brief said the competition’s purpose was to demonstrate that achieving higher densities did not always have to mean high-rise development.

As our recent Flash Forum on Housing Affordability noted, increasing density in currently low-density inner and middle ring suburbs is seen as a necessary key to improve affordability.

Medium-density housing offers a potentially more palatable way of achieving this in the eyes of local communities.

Queensland government architect Malcolm Middleton said the competition was seeking to draw on “the great pool of design talent” in the state, though was also accepting national and international submissions, because density and diversity affected all cities.

He said the winning idea could even disrupt current building and planning rules.

“Disruption may also be part of a good idea and we want to understand what rules need to change in order to realise your design and deliver residential opportunities best suited to Queensland’s regional and urban contexts and its climate.”

There will be a total of $50,000 in prize money to be shared between up to 10 winners.

Evaluation criteria

Submissions should demonstrate a high level of innovation in one or more of the following areas:

  • Climatically responsive places that are quiet and full of light – designed to breathe, warm, cool and keep dry
  • Healthy and safe public and private places that encourage walking, active lifestyles and connection with community and nature
  • Intergenerational places that embrace households and businesses of various sizes, ages, abilities and occupations
  • Entrepreneurial places to work, learn, invest, innovate and play, including co-living-working spaces, SOHOs (small office home offices), shop-top housing, and studios for budding and established entrepreneurs and small businesses
  • Total energy places involving smart building systems and materials, and mobility and storage solutions to reduce energy infrastructure, greenhouse gas emissions and consumer energy costs

Applications close 4 July.

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