The NSW Government has announced a national competition for Australia’s top architects and building designers to design medium density homes to help pave the way for Sydney’s future housing.

A collaboration between the NSW Government Architect and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, and endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects, the Missing Middle Design Competition aims to test the draft Medium Density Design Guide, which is currently on public exhibition and will make it easier to build low-rise, medium density homes across NSW.

NSW Government Architect Peter Poulet explains that the design competition is an initiative to demonstrate design-led planning with a view to improving the draft Medium Density Design Guide and draft Medium Density Housing Code, and in turn the housing liveability outcomes for the people of NSW.

The draft policies are expected to encourage better designed terraces, townhouses and dual occupancies in response to demand for this versatile housing type.

According to Poulet, open design competitions such as the Missing Middle Design Competition are a great way to encourage the innovation and creative intelligence of Australia’s design sector, and also an excellent opportunity for the community to be involved in creating their own built environment.

He added that knowledge gained from assessment of the competition proposals will inform the final Guide, leading to better design outcomes for medium density homes and securing a productive and liveable future for NSW through high quality design.

The Missing Middle Design Competition has three entry categories corresponding to three medium density housing types – dual occupancy (two dwellings on one lot), multi-dwelling housing (terraces), and manor houses (two-storey buildings comprising of 3-4 dwellings).

An expert jury led by Poulet and comprising of a mix of architects, building designers and planners will offer a balanced and fair appraisal of the quality of the entries. Poulet will be joined by National Architecture Robin Boyd Award winner Rachel Neeson, Partners Hill Principal Architect Timothy Hill, City Architect Jan McCredie from Liverpool City Council, and Independent Building Designer Les Dickson.

Three winners, one per category, will win $10,000 each and four runners-up will each be awarded $5,000.

Competition entries will close on 16 December. The entries will be judged in January and the winning designs and runners-up will be announced in February 2017.