The Australian Government is investing $1.7 billion as part of its Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan to deliver over 6,000 social housing homes in NSW by June 2012. One of the projects included in the national plan was recently completed in North Ryde (Lorna Street) using a variety of smooth face bricks from Boral Bricks to fulfill the proposed brief; a low maintenance, robust and energy efficient building that incorporates design features appropriate for aged residents.

Housing NSW, one of the largest providers of social housing in the world, wanted to build a complex that would maximise the number of units suitable for differing levels of tenant mobility and disability. As the main architects, Housing NSW created an innovative design that holds 26 new homes within the complex; 17 one-bedroom and 9 two-bedroom units.  

The design is able to capitalise on a well-located site and provide a medium-density solution which is respectful of its context. The site planning works around existing mature trees and provides accessible entries to each downstairs unit. Working with the steep topography and moulding the site with a number of retaining walls, Housing NSW was able to minimise impact on the neighbours while providing easy access for all levels of mobility.

The pattern and rhythm of the existing streetscape was thought about and enhanced by the selection of warm smooth face brick colours, contrasted with smaller areas of render and coloured metal cladding. The project features a combination of Escura Smooth Face bricks in Choc Tan and Pearl Grey, Nuvo in Blue Rio and Masonry Designer Blocks in Alabaster.

These Boral face bricks were chosen because they fulfilled the overall goals of the project and its response to context; they articulated the massing of the individual dwellings and are a durable, low-maintenance and inexpensive product.