A resource of Urban Design ideas and how they could be applied to Wellington's inner city.

 Residents on the rooftop of The Commons, Brunswick, Melbourne.

Residents on the rooftop of The Commons, Brunswick, Melbourne.

The inner city apartment revolution: think rooftop veggie patches and beehives.

A quiet revolution is underway in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, where a group of uncompromising young architects, investors and residents are rewriting the rule book on inner city apartment living.

This article outlines the background to the development of The Commons, which was the first development in inner city Melbourne built on a sustainable development model.  It outlines the challenges faced by the developers with regulators and the uptake by residents of this new approach.

The next development is Nightingale 1 (article says due for completion in Nov 2017) with five others underway. This demand led to the development of Nightingale House in 2015 to license the model to other interested architects. The model is based on: an assessment of licensees, a waiting list of possible residents, pair future investors with opportunities and create a set of sustainable design principles.

The focus of these developments is to prioritise the needs of humans and home owners – giving future residents a say in the design, and not just in their apartment, but in the whole development. This includes shared laundry, allocation of a garden space on the roof, not having an ensuite to gain more space, as examples.

One rule for investors  is a cap on profits from their investment at 15% rather than the industry standard of 20%+. Other differences include only owner-occupiers are able to buy, prospective residents (ie, owners) are vetted, and an allocation of units is put aside for ‘priority allocation’ to groups that find it harder to find and afford housing.