Gone are the days when affordable housing equated to uninspiring high-rises and cookie-cutter complexes. Today, a renaissance in design and a focus on efficient construction are transforming what it means to build affordable homes, blending the lines between government and private market housing.
PLACE Studio, a pioneering architectural firm making waves in New South Wales’ affordable housing sector, is on a mission to dispel the myth that affordability must come at the cost of aesthetics and quality.
James Alexander-Hatziplis, PLACE Studio’s co-founder and managing director, stresses the importance of challenging the status quo. “Affordable housing doesn’t mean it has to be cheap and nasty. We strive to bring an architectural aesthetic to our designs to enhance the efficiency of the buildings as well as maximise great architectural outcomes onsite,” Alexander-Hatziplis explains.
The firm’s approach also prioritises sustainability and practicality. By integrating modular designs into their construction process, PLACE Studio is able to assemble homes both consistently and efficiently, dovetailing these efforts with a commitment to high energy efficiency and maintenance-friendly materials. “Affordable housing also needs to be cost-effective. We are applying modular designs that enable us to design homes with consistency and efficiency for construction, allowing more money to be spent on positive social outcomes for these projects,” Alexander-Hatziplis adds.
While PLACE Studio is impacting urban areas like Sydney, it’s also turning its attention to regional NSW. Challenges in these areas are unique, with material selection often limited by availability, yet the team is dedicated to overcoming these hurdles without compromising on design. Alexander-Hatziplis acknowledges, “Many of the older designs had bespoke apartment types creating inefficiencies in design and incurring additional construction costs for builders.”
Affordable housing doesn’t mean it has to be cheap and nasty. We strive to bring an architectural aesthetic to our designs to enhance the efficiency of the buildings as well as maximise great architectural outcomes onsite James Alexander-Hatziplis
Ensuring good design reaches those who need it most, PLACE Studio has joined forces with Mono Constructions, a company specialising in innovative and sustainable construction. Together, they’re on track to deliver 85 social housing apartments, evidencing their commitment to reinventing the face of affordable housing. An example of their successful partnership is the upcoming construction of new social housing apartments in Peakhurst, which boasts a modern facade and is enveloped by verdant landscapes.
According to Jason O’Keefe, Associate Director at PLACE Studio, exceptional design should not be out of reach for the vulnerable, as it serves as a catalyst for community uplift. “Good design needs to be made available to the most vulnerable in the community for any strong community uplift,” O’Keefe said. With such a vision driving their projects, PLACE Studio sets a bold blueprint for the future of affordable housing — one that is not just economically sensible but also aesthetically pleasing and inclusive.