making middle-ring suburbs vibrant, popular and diverse

Sydney NSW, 2017

Two design concepts by RobertsDay joined more than 100 innovative and creative entries submitted to the Missing Middle design competition run by Planning NSW. The competition focused on housing typologies for middle-ring densification described as the "missing middle”. The intention of the competition was to test a draft State Planning Policy and provide alternative housing options that bridge the gap between free-standing houses and apartment buildings. Judging of the Missing Middle Competition was completed in January 2017 with the winning designs announced by planning minister Anthony Roberts in mid April. 

Insights gained from assessment of the competition proposals will help to shape the final Medium Density Design Guide, assisting the NSW Government’s efforts to improve supply, choice and design of these popular housing types.  Planning minister Anthony Roberts said "The 111 entries were so imaginative and resourceful that the government was now looking at building some of the submissions as demonstration homes".

Our contribution

The middle-ring suburbs of Sydney are characterised by a fine-grained subdivision and generally arranged on a regular urban grid. With the right legislation, these inherent qualities provide the perfect framework for the emergence of walkable communities that are vibrant, popular and diverse. 

Our architectural proposals for the 'Missing Middle' competition offer variations on traditional building types: the terrace and the dual occupancy house. Our conception of each focuses on flexible and shared housing types which allow occupants the capacity to curate their own private and public lives. This is achieved through the configuration of small private moments amongst the generous and memorable shared spaces which form the heart of each site.

The Dual Occupancy

The dual occupancy housing type is best known for its appearance in the back yards of existing houses.Our proposal is a deliberate departure from the Australian suburban house, bracketed between front-yard and back-yard. We re-establish the suburban lot as a ‘field’ of plantings and activities - a productive garden. The typically consolidated dwelling spaces are then decomposed into a series of pavilions,dispersed within a productive garden. 



The Terrace

The tried and true terrace house typology is an ideal middle-ring housing type. The type lends itself to a myriad of internal configurations without imposing this diversity on the streetscape. In sequence, the expressed party walls, full-width first floor balcony, customised garden and front door combine to create an organised yet richly diverse street-wall. 

It is from these observations that we begin exploring further possibilities in the model - accessible housing, co-housing, and beyond the draft code, the integration of no-residential program and so on...