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Students plan low cost housing design concepts

News story

A team of students from Curtin University and The University of Western Australia have won first place at the Western Australian Department of Housing’s first [design]ability Affordable Housing Design Competition.

Design concepts by Genius Loci, the winning team.
Concepts by Genius Loci, the winning team.

The [design]ability Affordable Housing Design Competition was open to tertiary students across Western Australia, challenging them to produce low cost housing design concepts for a study site bound by High Street and Holland Street in Fremantle.

The winning team of six, Genius Loci, envisioned an eight-storey apartment complex near High Street to act as a landmark for Fremantle as well as a noise barrier, and a two-storey townhouse with a front garden near Holland Street to respond to its existing quiet suburban environment.

Their low cost housing design concept also showed environmental sustainability, proposing that the buildings incorporate a passive solar building design to reduce electricity and maintenance costs, and that the existing eucalyptus trees on site were retained, according to Tuan Anh Ngo, a member of the team studying a Master of Architecture at Curtin.

“Our inspiration came from our team name ‘Genius Loci’, which means ‘spirit of place’. It made us think very carefully and deeply into the context of the site in order to respond appropriately,” said Mr Ngo, who focused on urban design, ecological understanding and apartment design.

“The response to two different aspects of the site was the result of this way of thinking.”

With Perth housing affordability an ongoing concern due to rising house prices, the competition was the perfect way for the State’s future planners, architects and designers to showcase their ideas, according to Minister for Housing; Racing and Gaming Colin Holt.

“The competition provided tertiary students with the opportunity to practise their talents and work as a team on a real-world project with a focus on innovative housing design and affordability,” said Mr Holt.

All participating students were encouraged to think about the materials, construction methods and financial sustainability when proposing their low cost housing design concepts.

“Students did well to focus on innovative designs that would maximise sustainability, reduce building and living costs, and provide a healthy and attractive place to live,” said Mr Holt.

Mr Holt announced the results of the competition at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

As the winners, Genius Loci were awarded $10,000 in prize money.

“Winning this competition really gives us a highlight note in our portfolio for future job seeking,” said Mr Tuan.

“We were very shocked about getting first prize. The awards event was a very rewarding and successful night. Talking to the professionals really gave us more perspective into the industry. We are really excited and are thinking about working or traveling together in the future, or maybe [taking part in] another competition… who knows?”

Second place was awarded to a team of students from The University of Western Australia and The University of Notre Dame Australia. Two teams, comprised of students from Curtin University and The University of Western Australia, were awarded equal third place.

Mr Holt has stated the Department of Housing may use any of the low cost housing design concepts as inspiration for future housing projects.

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