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Small blocks

This is collaborative housing at the smallest scale – redevelopment of single family dwellings or adjacent blocks to accommodate a small cluster of households, or redevelopment of small walk-up apartment buildings to increase shared facilities.


Redevelopment of a single family dwelling


In this scenario a single-dwelling block is redeveloped to accommodate a few households, typically two or three, who share some space. This model may suit older Australians wanting to downsize without leaving their home, intergenerational families and small groups of friends struggling to afford a home on their own. It is most likely to suit people who are closely socially connected.


Redevelopment of adjacent sites


Homes on adjacent sites might be redeveloped to share indoor spaces, facilities or just outdoor space. Depending on the details, this may involve amalgamation of land or it may be a more informal sharing arrangement. The Balmain case study is an example of this, where two adjacent dwellings on separate titles have been redeveloped into an intergenerational home.


Redevelopment of small apartment walkup


Small apartment blocks, typically two-storey walk ups with a small number of apartments, may be renovated to improve social contact and include more shared facilities. 


Why do this?


This model may be ideal for very small groups, as a way to afford to buy or rent a home, make better use of an existing home, or increase amenity and community feel in small apartment blocks. For homeowners wanting to develop their site, it can offer a way to unlock equity or create an income stream. For renters, it can be an affordable option that delivers security and connection to family and friends.


What are some of the challenges?


Challenges currently include planning approval – check with your local council - and limited availability of suitable financial products for co-borrowers. Collaborative housing is on the radar of the more progressive councils and financial institutions so there is hope it will become easier over time. As a homeowner, seek expert advice to be sure you understand the financial implications of selling off or renting out parts of your home.


View hypotheticals


Here are some hypotheticals developed to show what small-scale collaborative housing designs might look like. Note that they are the designer’s ‘ideal’ concepts and will not comply with planning legislation in all jurisdictions. They were developed as a conversation-starter for discussions with local councils.

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