CHC's grass roots contribution to the community and the needs of the vulnerable

Mark BaljakFebruary 13, 20170 min read

Far from the many apartment projects that are the bread and butter of this website, there are of course a variety of developments that cater, or intend to cater for the fraction of our society's population that find themselves in hardship.

Among the 1,300 plus listings within the Urban.com.au Project Database are a smattering of projects such as 179-191 Flemington Road that are designed to cover the needs of the vulnerable, be they homeless or displaced.

Another grass roots design contribution within Newport is currently under construction, with the aim of providing specific women's housing under a higher density built form. 

Architecture firm ClarkeHopkinsClarke during 2016 settled upon a design for a new women's housing development within the Hobsons Bay suburb, which upon completion will provide another outlet for affordable and safe long-term housing to women, many of whom are escaping family violence. 

All tenants in the development will come from the public housing waiting list, with rent set at a maximum 75 per cent of the market price, or 30 per cent of the household’s income. Undertaken by Women’s Housing Ltd, Newport is funded by a $5.5 million grant from the Victorian Property Fund, which is administered by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

From a design perspective, there were several elements which ClarkeHopkinsClarke incorporated into the project's design to allow it would respond to the needs of social housing for that area. Melding with its surrounds, the building's frontage appears as little more than two double-story townhouses, whereas the development actually includes 20 one and two bedroom apartments. 

CHC's grass roots contribution to the community and the needs of the vulnerable
Street level view of Newport's social housing addition. Image: ClarkeHopkinsClarke

ClarkeHopkinsClarke's Newport design sees the apartments take on the look and feel of a traditional residential home. The three storey building is designed to read as two double storey townhouses from the street, with the third floor recessed and cloaked from view within the angular roofline.

On-grade car parking, terraces for each dwelling and a design which allows for ageing in place are also project design highlights.

Newport's design reflects ClarkeHopkinsClarke's previous success with their first development for Women's Housing Ltd in Bayswater, which subsequently snared Winner for Affordable Housing at the 2012 UDIA Victoria Awards for Excellence. 

According to ClarkeHopkinsClarke and Women's Housing Ltd, the majority of tenants in the Bayswater building are victims of domestic violence, and prior to the development were living in women’s refuges, cars or couch surfing with family and friends. Women’s Housing Ltd's Judy Line says that increased public awareness campaigns surrounding domestic violence against women has helped secure more funding for projects of this ilk.

The Newport build is midway with completion expected mid to late 2017.

Mark Baljak

Mark Baljak was a co-founder of Urban.com.au. He passed away on Thursday 8th of November 2018 after a battle with cancer. He was 37. Mark was a keen traveller, having visited all six permanently-inhabited continents and had a love of craft beer. One of his biggest passions was observing the change that has occurred in Melbourne over the past two decades. In that time he built an enormous library of photos, all taken by him, which tracked the progress of construction on building sites from across metropolitan Melbourne.
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