In Sydney’s western suburbs, Plus Architecture is partnering with industry and government to create a mixed-tenure development. Director, Amit Julka, tells us more.

Lidcombe Rise, a mixed project in Sydney, has recently been completed. The designers’ stated aim is to provide a mix of critically-needed social, affordable and market housing, alongside complementary community amenities. The $130-million development is a collaboration between Plus Architecture, developer Billbergia, the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) and Evolve Housing, all of whom come together in the context of housing crises in Sydney. Lidcombe Rise comprises four buildings with a total of 376 residences, 41 per cent of which have been allocated to social and affordable housing.

Habitus Living Editor, Timothy Alouani-Roby, spoke to Plus Architecture’s Amit Julka to find out more about the ideas driving the design.

Timothy Alouani-Roby: Do you find it more meaningful to design a project with a strong social focus such as this one?

Amit Julka: Yes! I think most architects are inherently driven by a desire to positively influence the context they are working within. Designing for both social and affordable housing represents a very pure expression of that desire for positive influence, particularly given the urgent conversations being had within architecture and beyond about housing affordability and the unequal nature of wealth/amenity distribution in our cities.

How does the emphasis on community and affordability affect the way you design?

A really important consideration we have is the notion of providing the same base amenity and consideration to the product we are designing, regardless of whether its social housing, affordable housing or private market housing. This ‘tenure-blind’ approach allows a project like Lidcombe Rise to have a series of buildings and spaces that all have the same importance within the streetscape, seeking to break down any divisions or barriers in interaction between residents. This in turn hopefully creates the conditions for a community that is integrated across the different types of tenure and is enriched by the diversity of residents that live within it.

Lidcombe Rise Landscape

In the context of multiple housing crises, can we have well-designed homes that are also affordable?

I think that this is certainly possible. Lidcombe Rise is a prime example of architecture that was delivered to a tight budget without the need to compromise on any aspect of the design or amenity offered across any part of the social, affordable or market apartments offered. All of this while contending with Covid and its implications on supply chains and construction costs! It’s vital to note that it takes a combined effort to achieve a result like this and architects are but a part of a bigger whole.

In the instance of Lidcombe Rise, we had fantastic design and project management on the builder/developer side that facilitated a productive feedback loop. It started at the design stages and meant we were designing with explicit knowledge of construction constraints, budgets and methodology every step of the way. 

What role do architects have in achieving this?

Being open to the idea of collaboration and accepting inputs from the wider team that might shape your design response in ways that initially challenge you – but eventually lead to a more fulfilling outcome.

What are some of your favourite things about this project?

I love the fact that you cannot distinguish from the street or from the apartments themselves which part of the development is social, affordable or market housing. It’s all just ‘housing’ and that’s the way it should be – seamless and preserving dignity for all.

Lidcombe Rise Architecture

Article by Habitus Living; Author: Timothy Alouani-Roby

Interview with Plus Architecture

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