Sydney architecture studio NBRS Architecture and the Tiny Homes Foundation (THF) are collaborating on a new project to design and develop affordable and adaptable housing units for the homeless.

Considered to be ‘Australia’s first approved tiny home project’, this social initiative aims to identify parcels of underutilised or vacant council-owned land, and build single-occupancy affordable housing units for the homeless. Based on Tiny Homes’ proposal of a collaborative service model made up of four to six small houses in conjunction with meeting facilities, communal spaces with amenities, and welfare and education services, NBRS’ design concept has groups of four houses sharing a common lounge and laundry/workshop as well as a communal green space.

THF also sought a housing design that could be prefabricated and transported to site (without exceeding statutory oversize load limits) or alternatively be flat packed and assembled DIY without specialist skills or equipment.

Each 14sqm home has a full bathroom and kitchen, and can be built for less than $30,000. Easy assembly is ensured with the use of insulated panels while the self-supporting design avoids the need for a structural frame. THF also proposes to have the construction of the housing units performed by students in work skill development programs.


All the homes have been designed with ESD principles in mind, and will provide thermal comfort naturally, reducing the occupant’s dependence on artificial heating and cooling systems. Appliances with low energy consumption, rainwater harvesting systems and compostable toilets are features that will make these units feasible on un-serviced sites.

Though the approval process has been a challenge, the successful DA approval of the first site in Gosford is a milestone and is proof of concept in planning terms.

Images: NBRS