Since 1987L I T T L E B L A C K B O O K O F H O U S I N GPart 1Sustainable Urban Form
PrefaceThis collection of thoughts, facts, images, drawings and studiesof completed residential buildings, emanates from a series oflectures given by me on the subjects of sustainability and housing,between 2008 and 2009 at Curtin University and The Australian In-stitute of Architects (WA Chapter).It is a discourse, presented from my vantage point, at this time of ourWest Australian community’s self reflection, on the topic of housing.It is also a summation of my twenty year exploration of residentialbuilding forms which may allow us to evolve into a genuinely com-plex and sustainable urban community.My goal is to provide you with an empirical understanding of whatmight be the boundaries of sustainable urban form and to dispel asmany dogmas about housing as might fall across our paths alongthe way.
BackgroundMy exploration of built form and of urban architectural languagehas three key factors, which may impact on any purely impartialviews that might be expected of me as I explore here with you theempirical boundaries of sustainable urban form in Western Austra-lia.Firstly, I was born and lived a significant part of my early years inMauritius, reported to be one of the most densely populated plac-es on earth. Yet all I remember are sweeping cane fields, chiselledmountains, beaches of course and most vividly; colonial city homesbeautifully engaged in the business of community, unapologeticallydignified in their privacy.Secondly, I was a migrant to this country (arriving at the age of thir-teen) and as most migrants have, I evolved my sense of Australian-ness from the inner city, namely Highgate, North Perth and Ingle-wood.Finally, as a young architect I worked for Oldfield Knott Architects,where I was immediately plunged into the fullest meaning of the “do-ing” of architecture, mostly in Subiaco, which was the first suburb toreinvent its inner city, worker village heritage, into a modern desir-able residential commodity.Bevan and Ian (Oldfield and Knott) formed their architectural practiceout of Len Buckridge’s who formed his out of Krantz and Sheldon’s.My architectural journey began there in the early 1980’s. Since thattime I have designed and completed over a thousand residentialbuildings in Australia and overseas, ranging from single homes toflats, motels, luxury apartments, high rise apartments, resorts and ofcourse residential additions.The AuthorJean-mic du Buisson Perrine was born on June 11, 1960 in Mau-ritius. His secondary schooling was at CBC Highgate, he wenton to study Architecture at WAIT (Curtin University), graduating in1983.Jean-mic gained registration from the Architect’s Board in 1986. In1987 he and his wife Mercedes formed Perrine Architecture. Jean-mic has created , local, national and international buildings throughPerrine Architecture and as design director of Perrine & Birch (1991-1999).Locally, he has been responsible for some of Western Australia’smost beautiful and celebrated buildings including:Box Building, Hay St. Perth (City of Perth 2004 Inaugural Heri-• tage Architecture Award)The Galleria, Northbridge (Royal Australian Institute of Archi-• tects Commercial Design Award)The Colonnade, Subiaco (City of Subiaco Centenary Award,• MBA Construction Industry Excellence Award, Joint winner withNorth West Gas Platform.His works in residential architecture have been published extensive-ly nationally and internationally over twenty years and have beenthe recipient of numerous Housing Industry Association and MasterBuilder’s Association awards.The Sunday Times Magazine (February 2004) named Jean-micas one of the 50 most influential West Australians in recognitionof the impact of his architectural work on the lifestyle of the com-munity.
IndexCrisis what crisis? 08Markers along the way 1694 & 96 Bagot Road 181a Primrose Street 24Box Building 30Standardisation & Mass Production 36Olivia Terrace 428 Victoria Avenue 44Garratt Road 48Housing Transients 50The Takeaway 54
Crisis what crisis?Irecently developed a fascination with statistical analysis of what Imay have purely “guessed” for 20 years. Bernard Salt’s incisivedemographic study The Big Shift (2004) started me on the way. Thisrelatively recent empirical foundation has led me to a hardened viewof why we are in such a dilemma over housing. Importantly it must besaid at the outset that this dilemma is over one of our fundamental“needs”; shelter. Yet a sustainable model for it and for our continuedevolution into a complex society eludes us here in Western Australia.Just as, it seems, do the root causes of the dilemma.I want to share only some important statistics with you; only thosethat point to a schism between understanding the problem and find-ing solutions.All of the statistics referred to here are from the 2006 census by theAustralian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and widely available. I provideextracts from the original ABS electronic document, augmented insome areas by my own charts taken from the ABS data.The first set of statistics is well known. It relates to the number ofpersons who occupy a dwelling. This statistic affirms our evolu-tion from family based dwellings (around 4 persons) two generationsago, to 1 and 2 person dwellings forming the majority of our dwellingtenure.And what a majority it is 58% of dwellings are 1 and 2 persondwellings.Over dinner Jan Güel, visiting Perth in late May 2009, told me that inhis native Denmark 60% of dwellings are now single occupancies.The statistical trends for our own evolution point firmly to that fu-ture.Australian Bureau of StatisticsCat. No. 2068.0 - Census Tables2006 Census of Population and HousingAustralia (Australia)HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION BY NUMBER OF PERSONSUSUALLY RESIDENT(a)Count of occupied private dwellings (b)FamilyhouseholdsNon-familyhouseholds(c)TotalNumber of persons usually residentOne -- 1,740,483 1,740,483Two 2,223,979 212,195 2,43v6,174Three 1,087,944 40,413 1,128,357Four 1,104,375 19,207 1,123,582Five 485,229 6,464 491,693Six or more 221,234 2,573 223,807Total 5,122,761 2,021,335 7,144,096(a) Includes up to three residents who were temporarily absenton census night.(b) Excludes ‘visitors only’ and ‘other not classifiable’ house-holds.(c) Comprises ‘lone person’ and ‘group households”.
Extraordinarily though, despite this 1 and 2 person majority indwelling occupancy, which by some logic ought point to an ur-ban dwelling form, the overwhelming association when one speaksof the housing crisis in Australia, is to the availability of suburban lotsand green field sites for subdivision.That fundamental disconnection between the perception and the re-ality underscores one of the main reasons why we are not getting tothe heart of the problem.A recent news headline lauding the benefits to first home buyers ofthe First Home Buyers Scheme pictures a prominent project homebuilder impressively before an empty block of land, project homeplans in hand the headline reads;‘First home grant fuels land boom’.Why, should it?Is it the case that these 20/30 something yearolds, seeking their firsthome insist on it being a suburban home? Or is it the case that thesuburban home has been portrayed effectively by heavily vested in-terests (as in this headline) as their number one and only option? Oris it the cost impost of urban dwelling forms which creates the nexusHome=Land?Amongst the influences which shaped our community, the ethos(possibly) perpetuated by land developers over the post WW2 gen-erations, encapsulated in these two mantras; “The great Australiandream is that of a 1/4 acre block” and; “Is it double brick?”, havelargely dictated the physical form of our 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom,West Australianness.KATE CAMPBELLLand sales have soared as a resultof a flood of fIrst-homebuyers, withnew figures showing the number ofblocks snapped up in WA has morethan doubled in the first three monthsthis year.The Urban Development Instituteof Australia’s weekly snapshot of12 major developers revealed 1744blocks were sold in WA from Januaryto March compared with 839 lots inthe three months leading up to theintroduction of the Federal Govern-ment’s tripled fIrst-homebuyer grantfor new homes in October last year.The average number of land sales eachweek in WA in the three months toOctober last year was 64. That averagehas ballooned to 134 blocks a week.UDIA WA executive director DebraGoostrey said land sales had rebound-ed significantly from their lowest ebbon record before the boostedgrant was introduced. She said the in-creased grant needed to be extended togive the second and third-homebuyermarkets a chance to strengthen. AUDIA spokeswoman said most landsales recently had been about the$200,000 mark. The median land pricein the December quarter was $226,000.A widening two-tier property market,with a thriving first-homebuyer sectorand an idle middle and upper level, hasleading Perth developer Dale Alcockcalling on the Federal Government tointroduce a $14,000 boost to all non-flrst-homebuyers building a new houseuntil the end of the year. Mr Alcockalso said if the first-homebuyer schemewas axed after June 30, many peoplewho were slow to react would missout on the chance to enter the housingmarket and hundreds of trades and ap-prentice jobs could be lost because therecovering market would immediatelystall. “The Government would get allthat back in GST revenue anyway, soit would be at no cost to them and itwould provide more jobs,” he said.“I’d like to think that the Federal Gov-ernment has got some sophisticationin their thinking to say there are a lotof people who would like to build nowbecause interest rates are low they’vegot a job and prices are down so let’sget in and take advantage of that. Andas an employer of 300 apprentices, Iwant to keep them in employment. “Master Builders Association of WAhousing director Gavan Forster alsocalled for an across-the-board newhome grant of $14,000 to run for sixmonths because boosting the hous-ing sector was the quickest way togenerate jobs. “We need somethingto get that market (new homes from$400,000 to $1 million) moving andcertainly a buyer’s grant for non-first-homebuyers would do that” he said.“They’re just hesitant and sitting onthe fence and they just need someboost to get them over the line.”First-home grant fuels land boomThe West Australian - Saturday, April 11, 2009
The second series of statistics I want to explore are importantlylinked to the first set.It is affirmation of the surreal attraction and fascination that the houseand land package has for Australians that in 2006, 81% of dwell-ings built in Western Australia were single homes on detachedlots and only 6% were flats.This despite the fact that 58% of dwellings are occupied by oneand two persons.This gulf from “need” to “want” means that 52% of dwellings inWestern Australia have two or more bedrooms above their ac-tual requirement. The statistic is 42% nationally, meaning thatWestern Australia’s profligacy with built form exceeds the nationalaverage by around 25%.Put in simple arithmetical terms, 52% of the total housing stock ofWestern Australia in 2006, being 827,000 dwellings, equates to astaggering 430,000 spare bedrooms and their associated corridors,linen cupboards, etc etc.827,000 x 52% = 430,000 spare bedrooms430,000 x 9sm/bedroom = 3,870,000smor 25,000 dwellings of 150smBUT...Australian Bureau of StatisticsUnits 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 20071 Number of occupied private dwellings (a) ‘000 673 686 708 718 724 740 756 772 789 806 8222 Public sector dwellings completed ‘000 1.0 0.8 1.0 1.0 1.1 0.9 1.0 1.1 0.8 0.9 1.13 Private sector dwellings completed ‘000 13.4 15.4 16.8 18.8 16.6 16.3 17.4 17.5 r18.6 r20.8 23.7Dwelling structure - selected (b)4 Separate house % 82.5 82.0 n.a. 80.1 80.5 n.a. 81.2 83.5 n.a. 80.5 n.a.5 Semi-detatched % 10.9 12.8 n.a. 14.4 14.1 n.a. 13.4 12.5 n.a. 13.0 n.a.6 Flat % 6.5 5.2 n.a. 5.3 5.4 n.a. 5.3 3.5 n.a. 6.1 n.a.Housing utilisation7 Average persons per household no. 2.68 2.60 n.a. 2.60 2.63 n.a. 2.50 2.51 n.a. 2.42 n.a.8 Average bedrooms per dwelling no. 3.15 3.13 n.a. 3.18 3.19 n.a. 3.25 3.25 n.a. 3.21 n.a.9 Household with 2 or more bedrooms aboverequirements% n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 51.3 n.a. 52.2 n.a.10 Households with insufficient bedrooms % n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 1.5 n.a. *0.9 n.a.TENURE & LANDLORD TYPE (c)Units 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 200711 Owner without a mortgage % 35.9 37.0 n.a. 32.6 35.2 n.a. 34.1 31.2 n.a. 29.8 n.a.12 Owner with a mortgage % 34.6 33.1 n.a. 37.4 35.3 n.a. 37.1 38.1 n.a. 39.8 n.a.13 Renter - state housing authority % 5.2 7.0 n.a. 5.6 4.1 n.a. 4.7 4.0 n.a. 4.0 n.a.14 Renter - private landlord % 17.6 18.7 n.a. 19.3 21.2 n.a. 20.1 21.9 n.a. 20.2 n.a.HOUSING COSTSUnits 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007Owner, mean weekly housing costs15 Without a mortgage $ 17 18 n.a. 18 21 n.a. 21 20 n.a. 24 n.a.16 With a mortgage $ 194 189 n.a. 201 207 n.a. 228 247 n.a. 322 n.a.Renters mean weekly housing costs17 State housing authority $ 66 59 n.a. 67 61 n.a. 77 r81 n.a. 81 n.a.18 Private landlord $ 126 134 n.a. 137 144 n.a. 160 r168 n.a. 180 n.a.19 Rental cost index (d) (e) index # 107.6 109.3 111.0 113.4 115.9 118.0 119.8 122.3 125.5 129.5 139.5
20,000 West Australians are homeless and if not strictly home-less then awaiting state housing placement. It is inconceivable, inwhat is surely a just and equitable society such as ours, that 430,000bedrooms lie empty. Unused repositories for cardboard boxes, dis-used home gym equipment and the like whilst an unacceptably largenumber of West Australians remain homeless.Then government architect Geoffrey London commented on the na-ture of our homes in 2007. His call for smaller homes may be partial-ly a solution, but the real solution lies in a more complex redefinitionof what we consider to be sustainable dwelling forms.A recent parliamentary hearing in Western Australia identified thatthere were 20,092 applicants on the waiting list for public housing inFebruary 2009. In response to this fact, the new housing ministerTroy Buswell stated that Federal and State programs would “dwarf”the efforts of previous governments and that this substantial neweffort would yield 2,600 new dwellings over the next two years. Theminister also added in June 2009 “This Government recognises thatthere is a shortage of supported accommodation acrossWestern Australia and we need to look at innovative solutions to theproblem of homelessness,”Further reinforcement of the public sector’s commitment to deal withthe problem emerged strongly in 2009 with the establishment of theSocial Housing Taskforce. However the very best endeavours of thepublic sector and of government do not begin to dent the monumen-tal edifice of the housing crisis. Under a best case scenario overthe next 18 months, only about 10% of those waiting for housingby the public sector will be accommodated, yet it is certain that thecombination of natural population growth, economic uncertainty anda likely fall in housing starts, will combine to create a far greater in-crease in the numbers waiting to those being accommodated.The changes to the status quo must include a major rethink by pri-vate enterprise of its social responsibilities in respect of housingand of the need for a fundamental shift away from the single free-standing house on a greenfield lot as the panacea to the crisis.JESSICA STRUTT &AMANDA BANKSThe waiting list for publichousing has blown out to arecord 20,000 applicants,while the Department ofHousing and Works expectsa $20 million revenueshortfall this year becauseof a slump in land sales.Department director-generalGrahame Searle told a par-liamentary inquiry yesterdaythat the agency’s revenuewould be 36 per cent downthis financial year. He saidthe department had expectedto sell about 3000 blocks butwould fall more than 1000short. Revenue was alsoaffected because land priceshad fallen. He also revealedthat departments had beenasked to develop policyguidelines the Governmentwould use to decide whetherto make a funding invest-ment in remote communi-ties. Outside the inquiry, MrSearle said the department,through joint ventures, de-veloped about 14 per cent ofthe blocks available in Perth.He told the Upper Houseparliamentary subcom-mittee investigating theGovernment’s mandated 3percent budget cuts that hisdepartment would achievethe $1.9 million in savingsit had been asked to findthis year. It was revealed inParliament that there were20,092 applicants on thewaiting list for public hous-ing in February - a figureMr Searle confirmed in theinquiry Housing and WorksMinister Troy Buswell saidState and Federal programswould “dwarf” the efforts ofthe previous Labor govern-ment by boosting socialhousing by 2600 dwellingsover the next two years. Thefirst stage of one of the jointState-Federal programs, a$70 million project to build286 social housing dwellingsin WA by July next year, wasunveiled by Mr Buswell andFederal parliamentary secre-tary Senator Mark Arbib inPerth yesterday. Mr Buswellsaid the project, which alsoinvolves the release of Stateland worth another $40 mil-lion and is part of the RuddGovernment’s $42 billionNation Building EconomicStimulus Program, wouldprovide an important boostto social housing stock butthere was a need for broaderchanges to the public hous-ing system. “The construc-tion of these new homes willbe an important part of ourefforts to move more WestAustralians off the socialhousing waiting list and intoactual homes,” he said. MrBuswell, who had commis-sioned a report on overhaul-ing the way public -housingwas provided, expected theGovernment’s role would bereduced dramatically underlong-term policies.20,000 wait for State housingThe West Australian - Thursday, April 9, 2009Time to embrace smaller cityhomes: top architectBEN SPENCERWest Australians shouldembrace more high-densityapartments and English-styleterraced housing to helpsolve the unprecedentedhousing affordabilitycrisis, according to a leadingarchitect. Professor GeoffreyLondon, the State Govern-ment Architect and a profes-sor of architecture at theUniversity of WA, said Perthwas destined for an inevi-table shift towards smaller,less-expensive apartmentsand “row” housing, whichwas resilient and adaptableand would open up newoptions to fIrst home buyers.Professor London said a de-cline in smaller, apartment-style homes had “almostcertainly” contributed tothe State’s housing afford-ability crisis by reducing thepool of entry-level housingand the State’s constrainedhousing sector desperatelyneeded greater diversity.According to the Austra-lian Bureau of Statistics,detached houses were 80per cent of the dwellingsapproved for constructionin 2006, compared with just70.8 per cent in 1990. Whilethere was evidence of newapartment developmentsaround the city, ProfessorLondon said Perth hadbucked the national trend,with multi-residential activ-ity falling since the early1990s while the nationalaveage remained about 30per cent. “Demographicshifts that are causingchanges in household struc-tures, construction cost es-calations and environmentalconscience are factors thatwill combine to force changein the Australian housingsector,” he said “We seemto have quite a number ofhigh-rise apartments beingbuilt or proposed “We needmore diversity of apartmenttype - smaller, less expen-sive, low rise, as well as theones that are currently beingbuilt.” Professor London,who was appointed in 2004to advise and oversee publicworks, foreshadowed tighterrestrictions on developers asa way to force change. Hesaid several cities, includ-ing Vancouver in Canada,required any new apartmentdevelopment to provide atleast 20 per cent of “afford-able” units before develop-ment approval was given.Professor London said thatwhile the typical householdof a couple withchildren had remained rela-tively constant in numbers,the proportion of “coupleonly” households had almostdoubled and the proportionof single person householdshad increased by a factorof 17. “These demographictrends have not translatedinto a change in the profileof housing types in WA,with the proportion of twoto three bedroom dwellingsdramatically displaced byfour-pIus bedroom housesin the past 25 years,” he saidDemographer Bernard Saltsaid Perth was easily themost suburban of Austra-lia’s capital cities, largelybecause much of Perth hadbeen developed post-WorldWar II in the eraof the motor vehicle. He saidPerth lacked the inner-city“funk factor” of Melbourneand Sydney and thereforethere had not been a lurefor people to live closer tothe city, though that hadstarted to be addressed insuburbs such as Subiaco andNorthbridge. “There is nowthis demographic demandcoming from the lifestyle ofPerth people that is at oddswith the cultural history andI think it has taken a whilefor ‘Perthlings’ to actuallycome to grips with this torun counter to their gut andtheir history of suburbiaand to embrace inner-cityliving,” he said. MasterBuilders Association hous-ing director Gavan Forstersaid that while it was theindustry’s responsibility toprovide alternatives, therewere already plenty of two-bedroomunits and apartments beingproduced in redevelopmentareas. Being able to have adecent-sized house, withinfive minutes of the city,convinced Ariane Owen,of Subiaco, to move into aterraced house on CatherineStreet last year. “It’s great tolive in a house, and yet stillbe so central,” she said. “Icould never live in a littleapartment, but I still wantto be close to everything, sothis is perfect. “The West Australian - Monday, August 13, 2007
Markers along the wayIn this section I explore some urban forms which I have created overtwenty years. The use of my own works as examples, amongstmany fine works by other architects, is essentially so that I may com-ment with first hand knowledge as to their influences, efficacy and asto their sustainability on a social and economic basis. These build-ings have been accepted by the mainstream public as markers ofthe boundaries of sustainable urban form and have been extensivelycovered by national and international media. I do not include manyof my earliest works which had lesser success, architecturally andsocially, but I acknowledge these as important to my understandingof what may be sustainable.Beyond this section of specific examples of urban form that may of-fer pointers to sustainability and equity in housing, I further explorethe testimony of those that live in built form on the very edge of whathas been considered sustainable, so that a real and empirical basecan be formed to further aid practitioners of architecture and urbanplanning in exploring and finding solutions to our housing problems.RICHMOND STREET, LEEDERVILLE - PERRINE & BIRCH C199247 FORREST STREET, SUBIACO - PERRINE ARCHITECTURE C1998
94 and 96 Bagot Road, SubiacoWhen the owners of a Subiaco character home went to subdivide their property, theydiscovered it already had three separate titles.The result is two homes which are ideally suited to an inner-city lifestyle…both have threebedrooms and two bathrooms and all rooms are well sized.Chemical engineer Patrick Flynn…wanted a place with character, low maintenance andclose to his work.The two-storey house spans the full 3.6m of the block and sits comfortably within the sur-rounding streetscape, despite its offbeat façade.“It’s an easy house to live in and would be ideal for a single person or a couple…it’s cer-tainly perfect for anyone who enjoys the inner-city lifestyle,” [Patrick said.]- Miniature marvels, The Sunday Times Homes Magazine, September 26, 1999“”
Around 1995 Perrine & Birch were commissioned to obtain aplanning approval for two unlikely freehold titled lots in Subiaco,which owed their existence not to planning intent but to serendipity.The two freehold blocks of 180 sm. resulted from easements forrights of way, which had been created very early in the 20th Cen-tury and consolidated into lots. Discovering the happenstance afteracquiring the primary lots to which these titles were annexed, theowner sought to create two infill homes, adjacent to what were, bySubiaco’s standards, substantial homes on large blocks.The challenge of these narrow laneway like lots, with their ~4 metrewidths was enthusiastically embraced by Perrine & Birch, where Ihad undertaken several such challenging projects as design direc-tor.What resulted are two, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, homes covering ap-proximately 130 sm. each of internal area. Eminently livable for one,two, three and possibly four people. The narrowness of the lots, theneed to meet Rcode compliance and deliver high amenity, combinedto create two unique homes in the context of Perth which point, to-gether with much of the stock of early Subiaco, to an entirely sustain-able lot size of 180sm and, more importantly, to a minimum sustain-able lot width that might be somewhere between 3.6 to 4 metres.The houses have continued to appreciate in their value, selling re-cently in June 2009 for ~$780,000; attesting to the livability and sus-tainability of this form, size, and accommodation of dwelling.~445BLOCKDIMENSIONS(METERS)BAGOT ROAD SUBIACO - PERRINE & BIRCH C1995
At a recent lecture at the WA Chapter of the Australian Institute ofArchitects, noted architect, academic and author, Simon Ander-son pointed out that the average size of project homes in Australiawas 260sm. and that in his recent book on Australian housing, Si-mon, and co-author Geoffrey London and a number of other leadingarchitects, had explored the nature of what an ideal project homeof 260sm might be, if designed by an architect. The book Take 7:Housing Australia – how architects can make a difference (Ander-son & London, 2008) is excellent reading, and important to the fullunderstanding of current thought in Australian architectural circleson housing.Despite the quality of solutions offered in the book for 260sm dwell-ings, I am nevertheless convinced that sustainable housing shouldaim at internal areas of 130-150sm. for 2 and 3 bedroom solutions,and that these forms should be the majority of our housing stock inproportion to the demographic of one and two person dwellings.94 and 96 Bagot Road points to the sustainability of narrow lots.Subiaco is full of extraordinary housing form dating to the early 20thand late 19th centuries based on an ~4m-5m grid. Excellent ex-amples still survive in Park Street amongst others.Such block dimensions; 180sm in area and approximating 4m inwidth, form an essential ingredient for sustainably high density forone and two person dwellings where low rise is preferred to highrise.
Box Building - 918 Hay Street“”Apartment design in Australasia is still developing a criterion todeliver quality inner-city spaces that understand an urban life -as opposed to transporting suburban principles to urban spaces.- Australian Design Trends, Volume 18 No. 11
In 1999 I undertook the development of a project at 918 Hay StreetPerth, both as a developer and as an architect. The lot, whichhouses Box Building, is 13.6 metres wide and approximately 670sm. in area. It is located in the West End precinct of Perth.Under the then Town Planning Scheme, 30 apartments were ableto be developed on the site and were. Car parking for 35 cars anda gymnasium are housed with the apartments in the rear two thirdsof the site (in blue in the adjacent diagram). A bar and restaurant onthe ground floor and a large apartment are housed in the historicfront building (in yellow), which occupies approximately 250 sm. ofthe site.Box Building was created at the very emergence of the West Endas an inner city village. A village which might sustain a complexity ofactivities which Jan Güel, in his publication ‘Public Space and Pub-lic Life Perth 2009’ describes as ‘the mixed city’, offering the idealingredients for long term sustainable urban vitality. Box Building in-corporates single and two bedroom forms as well as three bedroomdwelling forms. Many see Box Building, Kingsgate, Durham Houseand Wills Building as essential catalysts that sparked the West Endinto dynamic “mixed city” life.The smallest one bedroom apartment at Box Building is 69 sm.and at that time (C.2000) was seen by both the local market andby authorities to be a “very small” apartment. My view having lived inthe apartments, is that much smaller (than the Box 69sm) one bed-room built forms are entirely sustainable and later in this discourse Iexplore the nature of these.Box Building’s structural grid and innovative precast methodologies,industrial manufactured bathrooms and kitchens were the precur-sors to the evolution of a personal quest for a universally affordable,near instant housing solution, which evolved to be the Perrinepodproject.13.557BLOCKDIMENSIONS(METERS)BOX BUILDING, HAY STREET PERTH - PERRINE & BIRCH C1999
1a Primrose Street“”Designing for urban life and small blocks is routine for many architectects and designersthese days, with urban infil redevelopments and changing lifestyles. But according to Jean-mic, only a handfuldoes it well.“It’s a real challenge these days to create a space that offers a sustainable lifestyle. There is an extraordinaryfailure rate of small block residences to be relevant. Most people can’t handle the confined nature of somedesigns - the lack of proportion, the lack of light, the lack of exaltation really”, he says.“With this house, I continue my exploration of fifteen years on how to make urban spaces, small spaces, sustain-able and spirit-lifting“So does the house lift the spirits of it owners? “it exceeds our expectation,” Trish enthuses. “I am so happy withits light filled, serene spaces. It feels fantastic.”- Jan Walker - INSITE Magazine March 2005
* WOOD & ANOR and TOWN OF VINCENT  WASAT 159; Matter No. DR 654 of 2005.1a Primrose Street built on a 9m x 20m infill block, which grew outof the Town of Vincent’s recolonisation of Primrose Lane, is animportant benchmark in reinforcing the viability, sustainability anddemand for one and 2 person dwellings. The home is a 2 bedroom,2 bathroom home with a total internal area of around 130sm. Built for$320,000 in 2005, it sold recently (2009) for ~$1,200,000.The built form evolves out of the structural and philosophical bench-marks established at Box Building; that quality affordable and sus-tainable housing form is directly linked to the application of the mostmodern, industrial technologies. Precursor to the Perrinepod proj-ect, the house was individually designed, but still built of methodolo-gies that allow for mass production. Finishes and details are entirelyindustrial.1a Primrose Street delivers to the street important resolutions ona small lot; the need to house 2 cars, the need for courtyards bothNorth and South, and the absolute need for privacy. The front court-yard unashamedly offers privacy to the occupants whilst offering ahigh blank sculptural form to the street. *The State AdministrativeTribunal found on appeal that the nature of the wall and its architec-tural resolution acted to ensure privacy to an “active outdoor livingarea”, and that this outweighed the arbitrary wish of Council(s) tohave visually permeable, ~1.2m high front fencing solutions as man-datory design requirements for the precinct.Participating in community is about choosing to live, eat, walk andrecreate in a precinct. It does not involve giving up to others, rightsover our privacy, particularly where front courtyards are involved.The nature of urban areas where many of these infill dwellings nowfind way, are no longer a white picket fence, leave the front dooropen utopia; but are hard, confronting and in the nature of their ur-banism. Councils and urban planners need to adjust their thinkingto these realities and the overriding elements of privacy and securityfor front courtyards, rather than hark for the white picket fence orwrought iron laced images of eras past.920BLOCKDIMENSIONS(METERS)1A PRIMROSE STREET, NORTH PERTH - PERRINE ARCHITECTURE C2005
By first hand occupation within many of the dwellings I have cre-ated, I have developed a lexicon of elements, sizes and featuresthat are essential in creating sustainability on small lots. However,the absolute edges of sustainable urban form, I have only exploredover the past 5 years through friends and first hand contact withthose who inhabit such forms.In this part of the discourse, I feature one such personal testimonyas an important benchmark. It is from Karl Powell. I use Karl as anexample of the urban dweller demographic which is shortly to bethe predominant dweller type within our society. Karl is a student ofphilosophy at university, a qualified gym instructor, and sought afterbarman at some of the city’s establishments. He is a single dweller.Karl is an important asset to the complexity of layers, that are re-quired to create a truly sustainable “mixed” complex city. “Frazierand Niles” on every street corner, at every bar and every restaurant,is otherwise a frighteningly real possibility given the homogeneity ofnew dwelling options available to people in the inner city. In manyways, in Western Australia, Karl and the future dominant demograph-ic that he represents of the single dweller, relies almost entirely onthe architectural and entrepreneurial, skills of architects who appliedtheir trade in the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s to maintain an urban lifeat the end of the first decade of the Twenty First Century.Many people fall within the demographic of Karl, and many like himenjoying a cosmopolitan urban life, owe that privilege to architectswho designed and sometimes developed, flats of one and two bed-rooms in the 1960’s and 70’s in the inner areas of Perth. Built formscreated by Krantz and Sheldon, Oldham Boas and Ednie Brown,and Len Buckeridge, in the late 1960’s and 70’s are amongst builtforms that were harangued out of existence by a new breed of urbanplanners who saw density, height and modernism as anathema tothen suburban aspiration for Western Australia.66UNITDIMENSIONS(METERS)
* As Homeswest works from a guideline that no household should be paying more than 25% of their gross income in rent, and the maximum eligibility income threshold (for a family of four) is $840 per week total, the maximum rent paid to Homeswest by a household for rental could be no more than $210.00 per week http://www.dhw.wa.gov.au/Files/homes_rentpol.pdf (page 27)• The true worth of those buildings, that house Karl and his demo-graphic is explored by Peter Monks in his work on High RiseHousing in Perth - Past, Present and Future Perspectives (Monks,2003, p22). Mr. Monks, now Director of Planning & Developmentat the City of Perth makes the following point which is essential tounderstanding one of the fundamental drivers to solutions for ourhousing problems.“the most significant influence on Krantz and Sheldon was that theycame to understand the important concepts of standardisation andmass production in producing work”. Work that in the words of LeCorbusier sought to resolve the problem of housing “that cannot besolved by the provision of millions of little cottages scattered over theface of the country side”. (Cited in Monks, 2003, p16)Karl makes the following points about his space,If he were not here, he would have to look for alternate• lodgings well away from the city and would not participatein its activities daily.$250 is the maximum rent he can afford per week.*• The 36sm space is adequate and sustainable for a single• person, it would be tight and uncomfortable for two.His 1 bedroom apartment has been his home for 3 years. In orderthat you might understand the empirical boundaries that Karl is de-scribing, I appended on the facing page a model of his home. Thedwellings were built with the most precise resolution of form andfunction then available to them by architects like Krantz and Shel-don. A ~6m x 6m grid delivering, an internal area approximating 36sm. with a balcony across the entire face of the building. Cross ven-tilation is achieved by opening the entry door to the service corridor,which is open to the elements.Karl’s key pointers above and the fact that these built forms are al-ways at 100% occupancy offer us strong clues on sustainability andthe efficiency of this housing form in serving a large percentage ofour population.
The practical application of mass produced housing finds a con-temporary expression in the Perrinepod modules which evolvedout of my earlier works. The ~8m x 3m prefabricated concretemodule is the basis of 24sm components, which can be placed nextto each other endlessly, stacked easily or bonded in any particulararrangement to deliver modular flexible and expandable housingforms. The internal componentry is also modular and the product ofindustrial production rather than traditional building techniques.The first commercial delivery of these modules was in 2008 inCarnarvon, a Western Australian coastal town. The project consistsof four, 1 bedroom 48sm apartments and two, 2 bedroom 72 smapartments. The 48sm apartments result from the application oftwo 24sm modules as the optimum one bedroom configuration,taking direct lessons from both the success and limitations of theKrantz & Sheldon 6m x 6m modules, critiqued earlier by Karl interms of livability.Importantly for the amenity of the resident, not only does this mod-ule offer approximately 33% more living area than the 36 sm mod-ule, it also sets out to create a much higher level of amenity by theway of volume, creating 2.7 metre ceiling heights (instead of 2.4m).The level of finish in these apartments is industrial but the materi-als are the highest quality and in recognition of the important newvalues, they are ecologically sustainable, visually in the mainstreamand engineered for extremely long life spans. What is essential isthat these modules deliver the key factors required to successfullyhouse Karl’s typical demographic;the ability to be housed for approximately $250 per week• .enough room to feel comfortable (more than 36sm) and• ;structurally able to be replicated en-masse and at very• high densities in extremely short periods of time.A 48sm module using Perrinepod methodology can be delivered,structure and all internal and external components in a matter ofthree days at a cost of around $2900 per square metre.OLIVIA TCE, CARNARVON - PERRINEPOD C2008
At 8 and 10 Victoria Avenue the internal componentry of the pre-manufactured Perrinepod technology has been used to deliver1 bedroom studio apartments which occupy approximately 44sm ofspace.The ~3m x 8m grid of the Perrinepod has here been turned on its sideand a mezzanine floor inserted over part of the area to deliver a mez-zanine style apartment with living over the lower 24sm of space andbathroom, bedroom and small study alcove on the upper mezzaninearea which occupies approximately 20sm. The modules have beenplaced atop an existing office building which has been refurbishedinto apartments. A small balcony completes the accommodation.The existing concrete roof of the Len Buckeridge, designed buildingof the early 70’s was reinforced and the existing structural grid usedto house the modules.The resulting apartments reinforce the viability of single bedroommodules of and around 40 to 48sm as both desirable to the market-place and sustainable urban built form which is likely to satisfy thebulk of the demographic housing needs over the next century for oneand two person dwellings. The built form further reinforces that nar-row dwellings, in this case ~3m wide also deliver sustainable urbanbuilt form.The average retail selling prices of the dwellings in 2008 was$420,000.8 VICTORIA AVENUE, PERTH - PERRINE ARCHITECTURE C2009
In Bayswater a dwelling is being built encompassing the sum of thelessons noted in this discourse to date. It is a house that can growto accommodate the future family of the two owners and at sometime beyond that generation’s growth into adulthood, shrink backagain to accommodate the original two occupants.In one entirely viable scenario, the kids can take with them in the sec-ond metamorphosis of the house, modules from the original to begintheir own housing evolution. Like the Perrinepod modules many newgeneration modular homes are able to be partially recycled.Should the modules not be taken for relocation, then the house canbe used, post its family phase, as two autonomous dwellings. Thisprovides the owners with the ability to downsize, as well as offereconomic options to a redundant two spare bedroom. As the natureof occupancy changes, an opportunity is created for more people tobe housed in the existing built form, which is achieved here by apply-ing the full benefits of “hospitality” industry thinking to the residentialmarket.The idea of fully autonomous “twin keyed” residences is a must eventoday, but it should be an essential requirement of new housing stock.In that way, the redundancies of bedrooms and changing occupancycan be redressed meaningfully. In order to properly achieve this, lo-cal authorities need to review their opposition to multiple kitchen andservices cores in single houses. Such opposition, is misguided andseverely impedes the recycling of built form to useful multi occupa-tion dwellings.This fundamental shift for local governments needs to be accompa-nied by meaningful re-assessment of regulations, design guidelines,policy statements and a plethora of “touchy feely” regulations, whichignore the empirical bounds of deliverable sustainable urban forms,in exchange for nostalgic aspirations which ignore the realities of ourcommunity’s real housing needs.GARRATT ROAD, BAYSWATER
To conclude this first part of my exploration of sustainable urban-form in Western Australia, I want to highlight in passing, a form ofhousing which has near disappeared with the evolution of the centralCBD area into a desirable permanent residential location. Yet forgenerations, it has formed an essential part of this society’s hous-ing mix; the hostels and accommodation for transient persons are anear extinct dwelling form.In a recent presentation by Phillip Mangano, Executive Director, USInter Agency Council on Homelessness; he set out the backgroundwhereby federal funding in the US under Clinton/Bush administrationsfor homelessness increased from $400,000,000 to $1,200,000,000and yet that growth in expenditure saw no abatement in the rate ofhomelessness but in fact he noted, there was a significant increasein the problem.Mr. Mangano continued to recount that fifteen agencies in the USthen set about to research the cost of homelessness to the federalgovernment by tracking individual people in fifteen different cities.What they discovered according to Mr. Mangano was that the costof looking after the homeless varied from $35,000 US to $100,000US per person per year, based on the impact of the homeless onhospitals, ambulances, fire brigades, welfare agencies etc. San Di-ego’s study was carried out over 18 months and put the costs up to$200,000 per person per year, in some cases.Mr. Mangano noted in closing that the cost of providing housingwith basic services was, at that time, approximately $25,000 US perperson, and that many local government agencies throughout theUS had since signed up to 10 year plans with the state and federalgovernments to provide housing to solve the long term problems as-sociated with the homeless, and break the nexus with the approachof handouts and emergency responses to their continued habitationon city streets.This issue was brought sharply into focus by one of my employeeswho recounted that one of his young friends was a street person inthe interim of their awaiting Homeswest accommodation and thattheir circumstances had continued to deteriorate as the wait contin-ued to grow.Returning to some of the original statistics that I highlighted at theoutset of this paper, it is clear that 20,000 persons awaiting Home-swest accommodation is a fundamental social justice issue. It is onewhich the West Australian (Barnett) government has sought to dealwith in establishing its Social Housing Taskforce. Housing Minis-ter Troy Buswell, on June 20th 2009 opened a new supported ac-commodation facility in Perth city, established through a partnershipbetween the State Government and UnitingCare West. This is animportant first step by government and welfare institutions in chang-ing the status quo; private enterprise must assist further in movingthe agenda forward.I foresee, the need for a planned deployment of housing modules,less domestic in their appeal and much more pragmatic in their in-tent, to deal with the problem en-masse, perhaps combining 24smand 48sm modules to allow for varied occupancies of one to threepersons “twin keyed” in essentially permanent accommodation mod-ules, but designed for transient or transitory dwellers including thoseon the public housing waiting lists.
The Takeaway40-48sm provides a minimum sustainable urban dwelling for a• couple or a single person. This module represents a fundamen-tal building block for sustainable housing solutions.24sm bedsit modules must form a part of a total solution aimed• at eliminating homelessness whilst on public housing waitinglists.Narrow lots around 4m in width and 180sm in area are sustain-• able and were the backbone of medium & high density workervillages such as Subiaco, North Perth and Highgate for genera-tions.Architects and planners need to explore existing models with• more scientific and social precision to foster new forms ratherthan dwell on traditional residential forms.Dwelling forms need to change from static built forms to morph• able & fluid forms. ABS figures show that 75% of all occupi-ers under 24y.o have moved in last 5 years, 51% of 25-44y.ohave done the same. Even 33% of 44-55y.o moved in the last 5years. Why build a static form as a dwelling?The definition of a single dwelling must alter to allow multiple• occupancies and services within a single house.Every new dwelling must be twinkey designed to eliminate• wasted building assets such as redundant bedrooms and fosterchanging occupancies with ease and efficiency.The public sector is not in a position drive change in the volume• required to alter the status quo in this area. Change in volumesto achieve critical mass must be design driven and emanatefrom the private sector delivering sustainable financially viablearchitectural solutions.19th century building techniques perpetuate inefficiencies and• grossly inappropriate dogma restricting the evolution of hous-ing.My thanks toreece harley: researchermatthew shaw: researcherroel loopers, david morecroft, emma van dordrecht: photographersmal birch, tony lemme, paul mcdonald: perrine&birchthe ludicrously young team: perrine architectureserge pecoult, joe impicciatore: perrinepodbevan knott, ian oldfield, peter little, gary baverstockDesigned & Printed by Perrine 2009