How much is enough? Defining the shape and scale of suburban regeneration

Over the past few decades the needs of public housing tenants has changed, whilst the type and condition of housing stock has remained largely unchanged. Throughout Australia public housing providers are seeking to identify appropriate solutions that address this issue through the provision of new housing types and tenures, including affordable housing.

SJB Urban led a team of consultants to prepare master plans for two suburbs, located in Sydney’s southwest. The focus was to realign the public housing properties with the needs of their tenants, whilst providing affordable housing and improved well-being, services and urban design outcomes for the broader community. 

The project presented a unique challenge as the scale of the problem facing Housing NSW and the target for redevelopment weren’t defined. Starting at ‘first principles’, and informed by a comprehensive consultation program, the team prepared a design process that defined the optimal housing target and a range of housing, density and redevelopment solutions to achieve the project objectives.

Both master plans ran concurrently, as the similar contexts (physical, social and economic) allowed the work to be shared and undertaken to a greater level of interrogation, including the development of new modelling and design processes. Programs such as Rhino and Grasshopper were used to calculate and visualise changes in density and dwelling numbers across both projects, taking account of changes in housing targets, tenure and mix.

Costings and feasibility of the proposals also presented difficulties due to the scale of the project and the uncertainty over future delivery. The range and flexibility of the design scenarios allowed an array of solutions to be tested and combined until an optimal route forward was identified.

Conclusions: Changes and permutations can be easily investigated in the future due to this specifically catered design approach and adopted modelling techniques. New information can be inserted at any point in the process, should the housing mix, costings, density or typologies change.

Jonathan Knapp SJB Urban will be speaking at the 5th International Urban Design Conference – Hilton on the Park in Melbourne 10th – 12th September 2012

The FULL PROGRAM is now available on the conference website

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