DSGNK launches a housing concept based on the sharing economy for their entry in The Density and Diversity Done Well Design Competition – a joint initiative of the DILGP and the Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland.

Density and Diversity Done Well proposes a simple goal: to provide more affordable and innovative housing models for the medium-to-high density market. DSGNK’s proposed concept of “Community Tetris” combines classic home-ownership with the idea of placemaking that aims to make sustainable and affordable living accessible to everyone.

To solve the affordability crisis, according to DSGNK’s Ronny Matzat,  there needs to be more urban living models that are flexible, affordable, and consumer driven. Crucially though, they need to provide an integrated financial layer supporting an income for the commune, which is crucial for creating self-sustaining models.

“The financial layer, as in the income of the commune has to be considered for sure,” said Matzat.

Traditionally, design flexibility and consumer input has come at a large cost, but Community Tetris espouses affordability and diversity. At a starting price of $150,000, the basic version of each housing module could be constructed with utilities included.

“We give the future tenants a simple setup, what we call the “frame and envelope” model which includes the structure and facade as well as access and basic utilities. Sustainability and healthy materials are a given for us, to the point we don’t talk about it anymore, we just do it – like NIKE” said Matzat.

Community Tetris utilises that housing model as a blueprint for a series of these modules set in a community arrangement. When conceived as an entire whole, the confluence of diverse living styles and housing arrangements within the commune would shape a unique sense of place and community identity, according to Matzat.

Housing models typically follow a “one-size-fits-all” premise embodying a regimented program of spaces, but DSGNK’s model treats the idea of a home as a dynamic and continually evolving identity. Each housing module is a cube-like shell for living and working that are easily modified, enabling people to gradually change their buildings according to their needs and budgets, which brings the market back to a consumer level. It follows the principle of building homes for people rather than investment properties for profit, he said.

A by-product of the current housing market is the implication that people need to own more to live better. But with Community Tetris the opposite is true: people can own less and share more while retaining their same lifestyles through the idea of a sharing economy. Shared infrastructural resources such as electrical grids, water systems, and internet connections would minimise building and operational costs per homeowner. Other features such as shared recreational and joint work spaces, including offices, greenspaces, and vegetable gardens would promote the exchange of life experiences and skills among residents, said Matzat.

This is a familiar concept to Matzat, who has lived in and travelled to many communities around the world – including to Germany, Africa, India, and all over Europe – that showed him how adopting a collaborative community culture with a shared economy is the key to sustainable living.

Creating this change is important to him and the team at DSGNK, and to do so within the existing parameters of the Australian housing market will be challenging. However that may be, Matzat said that the team at DSGNK believes now is the time to spark conversations to increase awareness: a cause they have been dedicated to for a long while, with their most recent contribution being a presentation at the Green + Building Exhibition in Melbourne on July 7 and 8 of this year. This educational element of DSGNK´s work is part of a greater responsibility they feel to be an intermediary for the right change.

“We, as DSGN Kartell, aim to be the link between responsible developers and innovative councils / state authorities to make the necessary changes happen, so housing in Australia can be sustainable AND affordable to everyone.” said Matzat.

Article by Aiden Taylor / www.aiden-taylor.co

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Ronny was born in former East Germany and describes himself as a world citizen and creative superhero. He is the founder of DSGN Kartell as well as a director for the Green Building Institute Australia. Grown up where “sustainability” was a necessity to survive, he developed a broad skill set and a very creative mind. Home & product designer, sustainability advocate, businessman, photographer – Ronny is wearing many hats (literally).

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