shared facilities aim for interactive housing

Zetland NSW, 2014

An innovative housing project that develops new configurations of collective space in the heart of Zetland. 

The project offers a critical contribution to the character and vitality of this urban renewal area and provides Sydney with much-needed housing stock close to areas of employment and recreation. The location is ideal for higher density housing as it is well connected to transport and public facilities such as the recently announced and magnificent Green Square Aquatic Centre and Gunyama Park.

Our design and approach to the project was organised and understood through four interrelated themes – Living Systems, Social Infrastructure, Housing Innovation and Material Efficiency. Through these themes we respond to essential issues in the site, brief, context and controls.

Sustainability permeates all decisions on the project. The project and its parts are conceived of as a framework or scaffold within which activities and systems that prioritise lower energy and a more sustainable existence can thrive. Our design aims to weave these systems into the everyday lives of the residents in a gentle and seamless way.

The lower ‘urban’ levels wraps the full extent of the building, creating a visual consistency. A strong and iconic brick building edge is formed, providing visual appeal from the street while mindfully protecting the privacy of residents. Each apartment in these levels has a balcony that is like an external room to which living rooms and bedrooms directly open.

Upper Sky Level apartments have linear or perimeter balconies that are enveloped by an over-scaled screen to provide a warm interstitial space. Living rooms open through these private loggia at the most exposed levels of the building. Communal garden patches also dominate the sun-filled upper roof levels and, when combined with outdoor kitchens and seating areas  facilitate social interaction.

The layout of the apartments builds on tried and true typologies promoting diversity and choice within the building and providing opportunity for adaptation over time.

Music Utility Rooms flank Social Courts around the street entries and are accessible from both the public and residents domains. These flexible spaces of around 65 sqm are bookable by residents of the building. They are ideal for rehearsal and presentations in music, arts and crafts as well as small gatherings and parties. Social Courts connect up with the primary Mews circulation of outdoor spaces at ground floor.

Communal gardens enjoy the sunnier upper levels of the buildings where there is enough sun for the small scaled production of fruit and vegetables. Shared outdoor kitchens make these gardens a ‘sticky’ space for residents to hang on the weekend, grow and share a meal together. There are many small garden plots for allocation to interested residents.

Other uses located on the Communal Garden levels include shared laundries, generous clothes lines, composting and worm farms, and rainwater collection and distribution systems. Not only do theses social exchanges amplify any great place-making effects in the architecture, they engender a sense of collective ownership and civic pride amongst the residents.

Internal overshadowing is reduced by the receding form of the upper levels. When viewed from the Mews at ground level the effective height of the inner Court parapet will only be five storeys. More expansive views to the sky are available and greater solar access is provided to this tranquil inner space.


Client: Private developer Services: Architecture


Project team: RAW Architects, Adam Russell, Brooke Jackson, Vesna Trobec

collaborators: Kann Finch (collaborating architects)