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Hilton Housing



The competition challenge

The competition’s brief seeks densification of selected lots within the Hilton precinct through an efficient subdivision approach, aiming to build two small dwellings in what was essentially a vegetated backyard.

The wider context

We believe this challenge needs to be framed within the wider context and have therefore identified the character and livability of the Hilton precinct as the outcome of two concurrent factors:

1) The relatively small footprints of the original workers’ cottages in comparison to the lots;

2) The flourishing vegetated system providing visual and environmental qualities;

The current threat

As evident in progressive aerial surveys since 2007, these qualities are under threat by the current approach to battle-axe subdivisions: the vegetated system has been progressively eroded due to generically planned rear lot dwellings. Should this trend continue the overall identity of the precinct will soon be lost.

The further challenge

In response to this threat, this social housing project needs not only to provide its occupants with a high standard of livable spaces (individual benefit), but also to contribute to the visual and environmental quality of the extended precinct (common benefit).

A holistic approach

Therefore, while responding to the specifics of the competition, our design proposal also aims to support the wider context and enhance the vegetated character of the subject rear lots by recognizing them first and foremost for what they once were: gardens.

The multiple-courtyard typology

To achieve this, we propose a multiple-courtyard typology. This typology is adaptable to different orientations, responsive to individual site conditions and is able to provide a strong integration between buildings and vegetation.

Our design proposal stems from a fundamental act of planning: the alternation between solid and void, the vegetated and the built. This approach does not rely on crafted detailing, only a robust wall material that can weather and age with the site.

The proposed typology enables the precinct’s landscape to be retained, repaired and prepared to support long-term sustainable growth. The clusters of small buildings will ultimately become a built landscape, with the courtyards acting as a framework to reinstate the suburban canopy.

The architecture can be stripped bare, so long as the landscape is nurtured.