An affordable housing project in Newport, Melbourne, designed and built specifically for at-risk women, has won Buildcorp Commercial the UDIA Victoria Award for Excellence in the new public housing category.

The multi-residential Newport Women’s Housing project for Women’s Housing Limited (WHL) represents a collaboration between Buildcorp (Builder), ClarkeHopkinsClarke (Architect), Urbanxchange (Project Manager), Reddo Building Surveyors (Building Surveyor) and John Patrick & Associates (Landscape Designer).

Buildcorp reimagined the existing concepts of affordable housing, taking it to a new level to ensure high-quality apartments for at-risk women-led households. The 20 spacious and modern apartments have been thoughtfully designed to create contemporary spaces, notwithstanding the constraints of affordable housing, and incorporate ‘whole of life’ sustainable elements that will ensure affordability for years to come for the residents.

Buildcorp’s Sam Hoac says, “A lot of planning, collaboration and careful design went into the development of this project to ensure that the tight timeframes and cost parameters were met, allowing for the development of spacious and private apartments that provide a real sense of safety and security to residents.

“For the development of each apartment, we wanted to move beyond ‘affordable housing’ to create contemporary and stylish homes that are low maintenance and socially and financially sustainable, allowing people to feel connected with the community and proud to live there.”

The three-storey building fits seamlessly within the streetscape, resembling two large two-storey townhouses with the timber textures on the exterior echoing the weatherboard houses popular in the neighbourhood. The site has been optimised through clever building design to maximise interior space within the single and two-bedroom apartments.

WHL Newport features flexible and functional living spaces with light-filled rooms, laundry facilities, modern bathrooms and private outdoor terraces; timber texture flooring throughout the living and dining areas and carpet in the bedrooms; neutral joinery palette and Caesarstone benchtops for a touch of luxury; Faro Marmoleum flooring in the apartment lobby with colourful panelling lining the entry lobby walls for a dynamic and playful welcome to the building; and convenient amenities onsite such as bike parking and a secure car park.

Given the difficult circumstances of the women residents, safety is an important feature in the building’s design with secure access and intercoms incorporated at all entry doors, and high visibility to apartment entries enabling passive surveillance.

Buildcorp has also integrated Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) features throughout the development to help reduce the cost of living for residents. These include energy efficient appliances, high levels of double glazing, a minimum 6-star NatHERS energy rating and the use of raingardens and rainwater tanks for garden irrigation and water re-use.