A $40,000 nationwide design competition is set to showcase the potential of next-generation urban housing in Australia.

Lake Macquarie City Council’s dWELL contest will challenge industry professionals and tertiary students to design a new style of home with wellness, innovation, affordability and sustainability at its heart.

The dWELL competition has two categories: one for professional architects and building designers, the other for teams comprising at least one university architecture student.

Council’s Director Organisational Services Laura Kendall says the competition will bring together creative minds from the cream of Australia’s building industry and academia.

“We want to work with the best and brightest innovators in property development, design, technology and other industry sectors,” Kendall says.

The dWELL judging panel will comprise Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW CEO Steven Mann, Planning Institute of Australia NSW PresidentJuliet Grant, University of Newcastle Head of Architecture Chris Tucker and The Block 2014 contestants Maxine and Karstan Smith.

Tucker says he’ll be looking for designs that reflect an understanding of not only where we live, but how we live.

“With both of these, it might look radically different to the houses we typically build at the moment,” he says.

Kendall agrees there is a divide between current mainstream new housing options and the needs and desires of modern homeowners.

“It’s challenging if you’re a developer to convince your financiers or investors that doing something different from what made you a profit last time is a risk worth taking.”

“So, as a Council, we think it’s our role to show that it is a risk worth taking. But it’s not a huge risk – if it’s done right, customers will love it, they’ll buy it, and you can still make a lot of money.”

Manager Property and Business Development David Antcliff says that with projected demand for 13,500 new homes in Lake Mac in the next 16 years, and the recent launch of Council’s new Housing Strategy, now is the time to think outside the square in creating better housing options.

“We want to give a platform to the ideas that have been bubbling around in the back of designers’ heads,” he said.

“We want to give creative professionals and students some freedom to design homes of the future that are focused on making people’s lives better.”

All entries should address the WELL Building Standard.

The prize pool will be divided into two stages, with shortlisted entries sharing $10,000 in Stage 1, and another $30,000 on offer for those who excel in Stage 2.

Winning entries will be showcased nationally as an example of what is possible, what is practical and what is affordable in providing next-generation housing for all Australians.

“They will also provide a benchmark for us here at Council as we continue to grow our City and make it a place where our built environment evolves with our lifestyle.”,” Antcliff says.

Go to lakemac.com.au/development/dwell for more information.