Building sustainability into urban renewal: IPAA Victoria’s Terrace House tour

3 Aug 2022

Located in Brunswick, Terrace House is a residential development that reimagines sustainable living and redefines the relationship between architects, developers, residents, communities and local council professionals in achieving these goals.

IPAA Victoria, in conjunction with the Sustainability Community of Practice (CoP), recently hosted the Building sustainability into urban renewal: Terrace House tour. The guided tour was a unique opportunity for professionals to explore sustainability-focused urban renewal at different scales - state, local council, community, apartment dwellings and households.

Terrace House view of Melbourne CBD

Winner of the Australian Institute of Architects 2022 Sustainable Architecture Award, Terrace House  is a residential development designed and developed by Austin Maynard Architects. Situated on the iconic Sydney Road, Brunswick, Terrace House is an 8.1-star, fossil-fuel-free apartment building and an exemplar of environmental, financial and socially sustainable housing.

Designer and developer

The tour heard from Andrew Maynard FRAIA about the process for designing and building Terrace House. The project sought to challenge the traditional developer-led, commercially-driven approach to apartment buildings. The architects worked directly with residents from an early stage to understand and incorporate their design requirements, and consciously sought to tackle big issues such as climate change and housing affordability.

These are not apartments, these are homes – terrace houses stacked six storeys high. Community and sustainability elements are so much more prominent.
— Andrew Maynard FRAIA, Austin Maynard Architects

An opportunity to think differently

In taking on the role of both designer and developer, Austin Maynard were able to demonstrate an innovative way of thinking about the design and construction of higher density, multi-residential developments – one that placed the residents at the centre and sought to contribute to the built environment in the neighbourhood.

‘Terrace House illustrates how we can successfully shift towards a necessarily more dense way of living, while at the same time improving our lifestyles. It puts people at the centre of creating a sustainable place,’ says Mark Bol, Office of the Victorian Government Architect.

The tour also heard about other innovative programs being delivered across Melbourne and Victoria, including the Future Homes project, which seeks to create exemplar designs for low-scale exemplar apartment plans that support better developments in Melbourne's suburbs.

Projects such as Terrace House and Future Homes help to imagine and explore new ways of designing and building homes and communities that are sustainable and liveable.

IPAA Victoria Terrace House event

Connection to the Brunswick community

The tour explored the nearby Ecological Justice Hub, which aims to address disadvantage in the community through environmental means. The Hub is a permaculture garden and functions as a teaching, showcasing and advocacy organisation. The tour explored the Hub's gardens and heard about how they work with neighbouring residents and businesses to promote permaculture, waste conversion, composting and recycling.

Collaborating on projects with neighbouring residents and businesses is part of our approach to building our relevance to the local community.
— Michael McGarvie, Brunswick Ecological Justice Hub for Jesuit Social Services

This includes a plan to locate a beehive on the roof garden of Terrace House so that bees will pollinate the residents' gardens and the Hub garden at the same time. Honey and wax can be shared, and garden boxes can also be hired out to residents to grow inner urban food crops for themselves.

‘Collaborating on projects with neighbouring residents and businesses is part of our approach to building our relevance to the local community. As a central hub, we hope to function as a central contact point for sharing skills, offering resources and welcoming involvement,’ says Michael McGarvie, Brunswick Ecological Justice Hub for Jesuit Social Services.

IPAA Victoria would like to formally thank our speakers Andrew Maynard, Michael McGarvie, Stuart Muir Wilson and host Dr Paula Hanasz who were willing to give up their time to explore these important issues.

IPAA Victoria’s Sustainability CoP provides a space for those who specialise or have an interest in sustainability within government and the public purpose sector to come together.