Saturday, November 12, 2011

Canberra Public Housing Design Winner

A design from John Wardle Architects won the ACT Government's Northbourne Flats Public Housing Design Competition, for their Weave redesign. The flats were originally designed by Sydney Ancher in the International style for Northborne Avenue (Canberra's main traffic artiery) in the 1960s. The remodelling will increase the number of homes from less than 300 to 900, in line with plans to increase the population density of the area.

However, in my view, some of the sustainability features of the new design, community vegetable garden and photovoltaic panels, may not be feasible. Other features, such as solar orientation of buildings, and a wetland for water treatment have proved feasible at the previous ACT Government/private industry redevelopment of community housing at City Edge.

The photovoltaic street lights of City Edge have proved of questionable value and the large communal solar hot water system on one building has been problematic. Apart from occasional breakdowns, the central solar system has not proved as economical as expected, due to the high fixed charges for gas imposed by ACTEWAGL. Sustainable design has to be something which people can live with day-to-day and which saves them money, or at least does not cost more.

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