Ecoburbia

Fremantle, WA

Ecoburbia was developed by Shani Graham and Tim Darby, who bought a 1970s Italianate house on a quarter acre block in 2013. They converted the house into four (and a half) small independent living units with their own bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and dining areas. Each unit has an Indigenous name from the Noongar language.

Category: small projects

 

About the project

 

Ecoburbia was developed by Shani Graham and Tim Darby, who bought a 1970s Italianate house on a quarter acre block in 2013. They converted the house into four (and a half) small independent living units with their own bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and dining areas. Each unit has an Indigenous name from the Noongar language.

 

The units include two single room studios and two one-bedroom apartments. There is also a common shared area with a front verandah, communal kitchen and dining area, as well as a small storage area and laundry (with a shower and toilet). A large loft space can be used as a guest room for short-term visits.

 

Tim and Shani have a big focus on sustainability. The property has a 50,000L in-ground water tank, 12 chooks and 2 goats, as well as a huge edible garden with herbs and veggies that are shared with the household and other neighbours.

 

The community

 

The initial community that moved in was intergenerational, with two people in their 20s, one in their 30s, one in their 40s and one in their 50s. The residents often share meals but there is no formal roster.

 

There is strong engagement with the surrounding community. As well as having residents, it also acts as a community garden and hub. Tim and Shani hold a range of courses, workshops and activities, from cheese-making to yoga classes. There are also monthly movies over the summer in a purpose-built outdoor movie area created from the tiered front garden.

 

Project snapshot
What is shared?
How did it happen?
Legalities

Governance

The communal area has a verandah, kitchen, dining area, storage and laundry. The initial residents all shared a single electric ute. Access to the garden and sustainability features such as the rainwater tank and solar array is also shared. The residents also share meals, emotional support and an outlook on life.

Tim and Shani bought the property and renovated it to include the other dwellings, which are rented to other residents. The big challenge was to work out how to renovate a typical large house to include four independent, functional dwellings. Walls and roof spaces were removed, spaces were divided and outdoor buildings were incorporated into the house.

Tim and Shani own the property and are landlords for the other residents. The biggest legal issue related to having goats on the property, as they needed agreement from close neighbours before receiving Council approval.

Ecoburbia is described as a benevolent dictatorship, as Tim and Shani are the landlords and ultimately the decision-makers for the site. Conflict is resolved amicably, through negotiation.

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