Like art, architecture has the profound ability to reflect and inform society in a myriad of ways. Since the beginning of what we term the digital revolution back in the 70’s, urban design and residential living standards have continued to be largely unchanged. Here in Australia though, a recent shift in ideology that has seen an about face in the way we are choosing to live our modern urban lives and those choices seem to be informed much more by a desire for connectivity – to each other, to our built environments, and to nature.
In 2014, The Commons Brunswick was completed by developer Small Giants and the project’s somewhat nostalgic return to a more socially connected residential design is more reminiscent of European housing methods than the pre-exisiting standard of living previously embraced in Australian urban life – the single family home. This model has proven hugely successful in terms of its design, sustainability, nurturing of our social conscience and the encouragement of interaction between residents to each other as well as the surrounding environment. The melting pot of demographics represented by the residents of the 24-unit building is a strong indication that society’s desire for a more connected way of living is wide spread and in ever growing demand.
Small Giants Developments are now just about to break ground on The Commons Hobart. With 70% of units selling on the first day of sales, the model of urban living encapsulated in projects such as this – reflecting society’s inner longing for connection, peace and a sense of community – certainly seems to have a finger on the pulse of social awareness. As we slowly become more and more reliant on less personal communication methods in our professional lives, it seems we are longing for a more socially empathetic balance elsewhere which is ultimately reflected in our homes.
The Commons Hobart, like its Brunswick sister, is modelled on the idea that, as a modern community, we all want and need to feel connected to ourselves, to have a sense of place within a community, and to feel connected to our planet. By providing built environments whose residents are encouraged to interact with each other, to be aware and considerate of their neighbours and their shared environment, and to be more empathetic towards society as a whole, projects such as this are spreading a metaphorical net beneath their community. Steering us towards a future where, in the words of Small Giants Developments Creative Director and Co-founder Berry Liberman “humans can live in harmony with nature and experience profound individual and social flourishing.”
The original concept, credited as a joint venture between Small Giants Developments and Breathe Architecture’s Jeremy McLeod who went on to help develop the Nightingale Housing movement, is being brought to life in Hobart by local architects Core Collective. The projects site is an enviable city fringe location making it a walk from pretty much everything in Hobart’s urban centre. Each of the 30 units have been designed to minimise and offset carbon emissions in their materiality, floor plans, and aspects that capitalise on winter sunshine whilst relying on solar panels for other essential services. The Commons Hobart incorporates multiple communal spaces whilst acknowledging the sometimes necessary privacy we each yearn for as well. Planned as a “green building” the project will utilise bountiful plant life, anchoring the built environment to its natural site through aesthetic and material means further enhanced by techniques such as the use of Shou Sugi Ban treated timber cladding planned for the buildings facade. The quiet constant of Mt Wellington in the background also adds a poignant and beautiful presence to this projects bearing and helps instil connectivity between the earth and us, her fortuitous inhabitants.
Words: Tiffany Jade
All renders courtesy of Small Giants Developments