Affordable housing push needs socially minded design innovations and a national housing policy

Affordable housing design concept
Socially minded design innovations are crucial to guide affordable housing investment.

A chronic shortage in affordable housing has government and industry driving frenzied building activity, but it must be guided by socially minded design and a national housing policy to achieve the best outcomes for vulnerable residents, according to University of Melbourne academics.

Architects, developers and planning policy experts from across the globe will meet to discuss these ideas at the Housing Assembly 2021: Creating Socially Valuable Housing  from 3 to 5 November, hosted online by the Melbourne School of Design in collaboration with the Hallmark Research Initiative for Affordable Housing.

Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning Professor Alan Pert said the Housing Assembly will focus on making positive change amid a $5.3 billion Victorian Government commitment to build 12,000 affordable homes in five years.

“We have a once in a 50 year opportunity to look at how this unprecedented level of investment in affordable housing can be harnessed to ensure the best social outcomes,” Professor Pert said.

More than 30 speakers will examine out-of-the-box ideas to make affordable housing a reality, sharing tools to unearth affordable housing design and construction innovations to ensure new affordable housing improves the wellbeing of vulnerable communities.

Speakers include internationally recognised globalisation scholar Professor Saskia Sassen, who identified the “global city” phenomenon in her ground-breaking book, and internationally acclaimed architect Michael Maltzen, an innovator in design and construction.

Academic Convenor and Research Fellow Dr Katrina Raynor said she was excited about the varied expertise of the Housing Assembly, and the potential to inspire new knowledge and action.

“Across Australia and the world, practitioners and scholars are working to deliver valuable housing design, policy and services. The Housing Assembly is about drawing inspiration from these experts,” Dr Raynor said.

The Housing Assembly will examine the need for a national housing policy to unite efforts across government and industry in social housing development and drive ongoing investment and innovation in design and planning.

International examples of design innovations to improve housing affordability are explored in Pursuit by Professor Pert and Dr Raynor.

Professor Pert and Dr Raynor are available for interview, and online attendance to the Housing Assembly will be granted to media.