A new affordable housing development located in Moonah, Tasmania has been awarded the first and only 5 Star Green Star multi-residential design rating for the state.

Designed by Xsquared Architects, the Hopkins Street Affordable Housing project accommodates an abrasive urban context with a tough exterior shell, but also incorporates exceptional energy efficiency, sustainability and site amenity features, which offer practical benefits to residents.

The design supports a sustainable community, with residents drawn from the public housing list. The 30 unit development offers flexible, accessible and affordable accommodation to meet their needs. Design features also exceed those traditionally offered in social housing.

Rigours of cost control, a tight programme and particularly the Green Building Council of Australia Green Star process led to the adoption of an integrated design team approach.

At the outset, architect-led meetings between all consultants were established and continued well into the detailed design stage. In this way the efforts of consultants were combined in an outcome-focussed process.  The quality of these outcomes is evident in the finished project.

The project exhibits a confidence in relation to successful integrated urban living, with a communal area created within the protective cordon of housing located around the site perimeter. A playground and outdoor dining areas are included, along with parking.

Units are dual aspect, compact and efficiently planned.  Glazed AWS Vantage Residential facades provide openness, plenty of daylight and a view axis through every unit.  This axis is filtered by drilled aluminium balustrades which provide privacy but also offer the reassurance of passive surveillance in accordance with crime prevention through environmental design principles.

Additionally, Greenland Systems evacuated tube solar water heating is provided to every unit, along with photovoltaic array installed to power the common area lighting. A central buried rainwater tank supplying all toilets and laundries maximises the development’s water efficiency.

The minimum energy efficiency performance of any unit is 7.3 stars, and three units achieve 8.1 star performance, saving tenants hundreds of dollars on annual energy bills. 

Other features include a range of bicycle facilities to encourage physical activity, very high levels of insulation and 20% of units complying with adaptable housing standard AS 4299 so that tenants with special needs can easily be accommodated.

This project shows the architectural potential offered by social housing projects and, more than anything, if offers community members with limited housing choices access to a high quality living environment.

Minister for Human Services Cassy O’Connor recently received the 5 star Green Star award at a ceremony on site with residents, and said that the project represented “absolutely fantastic work” by Xsquared Architects, to which a resident responded, “Yes, this is the safest place I have ever lived”.

From L to R: architect Peter Scott, Xsquared Architects; Cassy O’Connor, Minister for Human Services, Community Development, Climate Change and Aboriginal Affairs; Richard Gilmour, manager Housing Innovations Unit – Housing Tasmania, project manager Jo Gregg, SEMF; and builder Mick Connolly, Hutchinson Builders accepting the Green Star award.