Affordable housing is one of the most pressing societal issues in Australian cities
today. Whilst initiatives in the policy and planning spheres are attempting to
increase the delivery of new affordable housing, one intrinsic question remains
largely unaddressed, ‘what shape should this housing take?’
In designing affordable housing for the future, it is instructive to look at the
examples that have come before. To do that, this research draws together a largely
untold story of the beginnings of affordable housing in Sydney, making the
buildings themselves central to the telling. Set against a broader political,
economic and social backdrop, the pre-World War II State workers’ housing of the
Sydney Harbour Trust, Department of Public Works, Housing Board and Housing
Improvement Board is explored in detail with the aid of archival sources,
documenting and investigating its architectural shape and linking it to the context
of its production.
Valuable dormant knowledge is brought to light and inspiring architectural
attributes are revealed for selective use by practitioners in the design of new
affordable housing today.