An international challenge organised by the City of Sydney to get ideas for affordable housing drew a healthy response with suggestions ranging from smart homes to pop-up shelters.

The challenge invited alternative housing ideas in the areas of delivery, financing, management, building, ownership and design with an aim to tackle the city's affordability crisis by increasing the affordable housing supply and reducing housing stress.

Seven ideas have now been shortlisted from around 230 entries submitted by property professionals, planners, designers, researchers, property managers and students among others. The shortlisted entries will receive $20,000 to further develop their concept.

Commenting on Sydney’s current housing affordability crisis, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the city needed a diversity of housing to accommodate the diversity of its community.

“The City has assisted in the construction of 835 new affordable housing dwellings since 2004 by collecting levies from developers and selling our land to affordable housing providers at discount rates. This type of affordable housing allows key workers such as teachers, nurses and paramedics to live close to their place of work, improving their wellbeing, shortening travel times and reducing congestion.

“While this is a proven mechanism, it’s simply not enough. We need to meet the needs of low-income workers, elderly residents and families in our city,” Moore added.

The shortlist

  • An equity housing model that provides affordability through innovations in financing and ownership types from Eddie Ma, co-founder of Sydney-based spatial design practice, Vigilanti;
  • A smart home that monitors its residents and collects data to offset costs for residents by Joe Colistra and Nilou Vakil in Kansas, principal architects with US firm, in situ Design and instructors at the University of Kansas;
  • A metropolitan lands trust policy framework from researcher Dr Louise Crabtree at Western Sydney University and Jason Twill of Urban Apostles, an urban advisory and property development firm specialising in creative city making and alternative housing;
  • Temporary pop-up shelters, which repurpose buildings to provide crisis and transitional accommodation in the short to medium term from founder and director of Housing All Australians, Robert Pradolin;
  • A Right Size Service allowing residents to adapt the size and function of their property as their circumstances change from Dr Alysia Bennett, Monash University, Dr Dana Cuff, UCLA’s cityLAB and Monash University and Dr Damian Madigan, University of South Australia;
  • The Pixel Project that would establish radically affordable, high amenity dwellings that match more closely the way people live in the city today, from Anita Panov and Andrew Scott at panovscott Architects and Alexander Symes of Alexander Symes Architect;
  • A cooperative housing model adapting the Zurich ‘non-profit build-to-rent’ model to the Sydney context by associate director at MGS Architects Katherine Sundermann, urban strategist Alexis Kalagas and urban designer Andy Fergus.

All the entries were assessed by an independent jury led by the housing challenge registrar, Stephen Varady. Once the ideas are developed, the public will have the opportunity to provide feedback later this year.