Whilst Governments would have us believe that the creation of new suburbs on the fringes of Australian cities will provide affordable options for many people seeking to make the great Australian dream of home ownership a reality, they really don’t get it when it comes to understanding that design quality is the real issue – and not in “new” suburbs – rather in the suburbs that already exist. European type densification is a readily available and successful model for design consideration – simply requiring volume builders to re-tool to fit a new paradigm.
That said, good design is important in new suburbs too. Many current new suburbs are afflicted with stubbornly, if not religiously built faulty houses, products predominantly peddled by volume builders and worse still their copy-cats – para-professional “building designers”. Waffle pod slabs, thinly engineered truss systems, a predominant lack of eaves and the use of evaporative cooling in south eastern states – these are amongst the most obvious areas of design shortcomings – presumably in the name of producing “efficient” and “cost effective” houses.
Not so says Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev. “These building features are representative of a short-sightedness when considering building life-cycles – they’re buildings that run out of time. For example, concrete panel units built in the 1990’s are already being demolished. I say keep concrete panels for industrial buildings – not for human habitation.”
“There appears to be no reason why the behemoth that is the volume building residential housing industry cannot lift its game on design – if only they acknowledged that each house has a requirement to be sited according to solid principles of passive solar design – as espoused by Australian architects since the 1950’s with a resurgence in the 1970’s. “ he says.
Quality design, incorporating energy efficiency and well-zoned living areas, plays a major role in ensuring quality and comfortable living areas that add value to homes, thereby providing affordable and sustainable liveability, Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev says. Sustainable house design should be a consideration for all new builds and renovations.
“At every stage of the building process, an architect can help reduce costs, add value, style and liveability to new homes.
“The up-front costs of an architect should be factored in by potential home buyers and these can quickly be absorbed by the savings generated by quality design benefits, which are quite apart from the added value of quality and comfortable living areas.”
In Victoria, the State Government has announced that it will unlock land to create 17 new suburbs on the outer fringe of Melbourne with 100,000 housing blocks to also be rezoned
New suburbs in Melbourne’s west will be Quandong, Tarneit Plains, Kororoit, Mt Atkinson and Plumpton and new suburbs in the northwest will be Lancefield and Sunbury South. In the north suburbs of Lindum Vale, Beveridge North West, Beveridge Central, Donnybrook and Woodstock, Wollert and Northern Quarries will be unlocked while Minta Farm, Pakenham East and McPherson will spring up in the southeast.
Peter Georgiev says the pitch of affordability is crucial to the promotion of “growing cities such as Melbourne and Sydney” which seemingly makes the new suburbs to be created in outlying areas more attractive.
“It is vital that the state governments make provision for infrastructure, including rail, roads, schools, health facilities and shopping opportunities – and guess what?! – they’re already there in somewhat disused 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s suburbs – that need polishing up for a second time around. If new suburbs area really that necessary – proper infrastructure needs to be provided by developers – not just the promise that they “might” come. This is the way to help ease the burden of living so far away from the city centres.”
“The problem with vast new residential areas is the prevalence of ‘build it quick and cheaper’ housing that is in keeping with today’s ‘throwaway’ society.
“Archicentre Australia is concerned at the partial architectural services adopted by many builders and developers. Further, builder-based building contracts allow the builder to be at once the ‘builder’ and the ‘building expert’, which translates to there being no independent assessor on matters of quality – thereby affecting amenity and lifestyle.
“Having an architect designed home can immediately add up to 10% to the value of a property and an architect can help plan for your future lifestyle, taking into account energy efficiency and other sustainable practices.”
An architect enables new home residents to explore:
- Current lifestyle;
- Future growth and lifestyle changes;
- Optimisation of home running costs;
- Use of construction systems that can save money;
- The impact of local development controls on design ideas;
- Project construction time; and
- Budget planning to achieve desired outcomes
Peter Georgiev says, “Limited or no consultation with design experts is leading to lack of detail, little use of natural site and climate advantages and poor build quality that translate to questionable investment and lifestyle choices for owners and residents.”
This media release has been written and distributed by:
Level 1, 9 Strathalbyn Street,
Kew East, VICTORIA, 3102
Phone: 1300 13 45 13 | 03 9859 9950
Weekly columns on home assessment, design, development and construction issues can be produced on request for media