The Melbourne Affordable Housing Challenge is part of Bee Breeders’ Affordable Housing competition series. Run in partnership with ARCHHIVE BOOKS, this competition tasked participants with submitting innovative design proposals for mitigating Melbourne’s affordable housing crisis.
This design series poses that there is no one solution to making housing affordable. Today, a host of new ideas and platforms are enabling people to own or purchase homes. These creative methods include community co-living facilities, 3D-printed homes, stackable modular homes, new forms of transit-oriented development, and more.
There were no specific design or site requirements for this competition. Proposals were requested to be flexible, enabling accommodations for a variety of inhabitant types: single professionals, couples, families, or group living. The brief sought out designs for a pilot-phase concept for affordable housing, which could be carried out within Greater Melbourne to increase its housing stock.
The jury favoured designs that were minimal in their use of land and materials and those that challenged standard housing typologies, while at the same being able to offer real solutions to Melbourne’s affordable housing crisis. Experts anticipate that Melbourne will require 1.6 million new homes within the next 35 years to meet the demands of a population of eight million by 2050.
Bee Breeders collaborated with a world-class jury panel of international architects, as well as regional designers, educators, and journalists. The full panel included: Karen Alcock, principal and founder of MAArchitects and current member of the Victorian Design Review Panel of the Office of the Victorian Government Architect (OVGA); Ben van Berkel, founder and principal of UNStudio; Linda Cheng, editor of Melbourne-based ArchitectureAU.com; Winy Maas, co-founding partner and principal architect of MVRDV; Alan Pert, director of the Melbourne School of Design; and Tristan Wong, director at SJB Architecture – Melbourne.
Selected winning designs will be featured in the ARCHHIVE BOOKS’ next issue of its publication series What is Affordable Housing? Bee Breeders and its jury panel thank all individuals and teams that submitted proposals.
Jury feedback summary
Housing De-Railed is a development suggestion for utilizing the air rights over the VicTrack railway system (VicTrack owns Victoria's transport land, assets and infrastructure). The result is a well-conceived and articulate solution for a transit-oriented green belt, comprising a layer of commercial and office space beneath a swath of open green space onto which residential programs are organized. The jury praised the submission as a “flexible and layered solution for railway corridors, made possible by creating 'new land',” and commended it for recognizing that “over-track developments could offer an enormous boost to the city centre.” The scheme puts affordable housing in the heart of the city and the proposed prefabricated module structural system, which allows owners to adapt and change over time, has the potential to create vibrant neighbourhoods. The jury suggests that the project has missed some architectural opportunities to break from a dominating organizational module, which could be studied should this project be further developed.