University of Tasmania
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Creating home in urban Australia : the role of site, space and form

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posted on 2023-05-27, 15:32 authored by Walliss, J
Environmental concerns, together with increasing development costs have created the need for urban housing which can provide an alternative to the popular, but low density detached house. Coaxing Australians into denser housing, however, is proving a difficult task, particularly as many regard the detached house as the ideal home. The concept of home is extremely complex, incorporating many physical, social and psychological factors. However, attempting to understand and incorporate these attributes into the development of denser housing will surely produce a greater acceptance of urban housing in Australian cities. This approach must be preferable to simply insisting that Australians modify their lifestyles and values in order to accept urban housing. This thesis will explore one important component of housing design - spatial organisation, in order to establish its role and importance in creating home in Australia. Spatial organisation describes the method of arranging dwellings, external spaces and associated facilities on a site. It forms a particularly important consideration in the design of urban housing where it is often necessary to design a number of individual dwellings and functions on a common block of land. This research is therefore not concerned with the internal spatial arrangement of the dwelling, instead focusing on the relationship, both physically and socially, between the individual dwelling and the broader community and urban fabric. The major component of this research traces the historical development of spatial organisation in Australian housing. This occurred in two distinct phases involving: a) the modification of English cultural models; and b) the post World War II application of Modernist housing principles. These two phases were characterised by contrasting spatial organisations which produced very different concepts of home. The traditional model, for example, favoured individual and private homes whereas the Modernist models emphasised mass housing developments with communal facilities. Evaluation of these models reveal that many Australians have a clear preference for the domestic qualities produced by the traditional spatial organisation while contemporary housing design still incorporates many aspects of Modernist spatial organisation. This thesis examines this paradox from a number of perspectives and concludes with a new direction for spatial organisation in urban housing, based on an Australian perception of home. In addition, it demonstrates the value of multi-disciplinary research in the development of contemporary design theory, which balances the needs of the broader population against the inclinations of the design profession.


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