Studio Bright’s affordable homes for vulnerable women approved

A Melbourne council has approved a proposal for a community housing development for older women who would otherwise be unable to own their own homes.

Designed by Studio Bright, formerly Make Architecture, the units will be built on a site in Beaconsfield by community housing charity Women’s Property Intitiatives (WPI). The orgnization develops affordable homes for vulnerable women, with previous projects including Coburg Townhouses by Schored Projects.

The Beaconsfield units are part of a pilot program for WPI that targets older single women who do not have the resources to purchase a home, providing them with a permanent, secure residence.

Architect Mel Bright explained, “The model for this program allows women with too few assets to achieve home ownership to invest and secure affordable and appropriate housing into the future whilst preserving their capital. These women will no longer be locked into the private rental market, watching their savings dwindle.”

The design calls for four “modest, high-quality” units that can be adapted as the inhabitants age, allowing them to age in place.

The units are designed to Livable Housing Australia’s Gold performance level, which has prescribed guidelines for the accessibility of dwellings. “The second living/study space is [also] able to be closed-off, to become a second bedroom for a caregiver or visitor,” Bright said.

“Each unit has an elevated sloped ceiling over the living spaces, designed to catch the sunlight and create a greater sense of generosity to the modestly sized homes, while also creating a rhythm and variation to the overall volume of the project,” Bright explained.

“The project is landscape-driven, and the four required car spaces are carefully designed to create flexible areas that can become heavily vegetated communal outdoor spaces. The front garden is generously planted with herbs, vegetables and fruit trees, providing an offering to the street whilst fostering a strong sense of community among the four occupants.”

Part of the pilot is to ascertain whether the scheme and the designs of the units themselves could be applied to other sites.

Bright said, “The L-shaped units are able to be composed in myriad arrangements creating a system that can be rolled-out on other sites with differing orientations.”

The units will be built with Brickworks Building products, with Eckersley Garden Architecture providing landscape services. Funding has been received by WPI from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Gandel Philanthropy, The Big Issue’s Homes for Homes, the Mercy Foundation, the Ian Potter Foundation and the Westpac Foundation.

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