There has been a growing demand for, and supply of new generation boarding houses, which provide a low-cost rental option for those who don’t want or can’t afford typical apartments or single-dwelling homes. Ian Armstrong, Director of DesignInc Sydney, is at the forefront of designing new generation boarding houses in Sydney, with more than 20 projects built, approved or in design development.

With the supply and affordability crisis in the Sydney housing market, the government has recognised the need to deliver more housing diversity. This has prompted changes to planning and development laws and allowed private investors and non-for-profit housing organisations to develop new generation boarding houses, which provide low-cost rental accommodation to a broad range of demographics.

Catering for tertiary students, young professionals, middle-aged people, divorcees and retired people, amongst others, new generation boarding houses have private self-contained studios with ensuite bathrooms and kitchenettes. They also offer communal living and outdoor areas. “The communal areas become the heart of the boarding house, providing shared space that allows residents to socialise and develop a community feel,” says Ian. “We link communal and outdoor areas together to maximise flexibility and use, and also include shared kitchen areas, in addition to the kitchenettes, to support social activities.”

DesignInc_New-generation-boarding-houses_04Pictured above: Render of Potts Point boarding house (Image credit: DesignInc)

A new boarding house in Potts Point will reactivate an underutilised corner. The internal planning is designed around a central staircase and lift, which provide access to the communal areas on the top floor. An east-facing living space receives morning light and offers a view toward the eastern suburbs, and a north-facing outdoor area is a relaxed sun-filled space with a barbeque and seating. G Accommodation in Surry Hills has multiple communal living spaces, including a street-level café and courtyard and rooftop deck with city views.

DesignInc_New-generation-boarding-houses_03Pictured above: Render of G Accommodation in Surry Hills (Image credit: DesignInc) 

Located in inner-suburban neighbourhoods such as Potts Point and Surry Hills, these new generation boarding houses offer convenient access to urban amenities. Being near public transport reduces the need for automobile ownership, and bicycle racks and sometimes motorcycle spaces are provided within the buildings.

Self-contained studios are designed to bring in natural light and ventilation and offer well-planned kitchenettes and ensuites to maximise the sense of space. “We focus a lot of design thinking on the planning and materiality to create the best possible living environment to maximise user amenity,” Ian says.

DesignInc_New-generation-boarding-houses_01Pictured above: Render of boarding house in Randwick (Image credit: DesignInc)

A DA has been submitted for a boarding house in Randwick, which is designed to complement detached houses and three- to four-storey apartment buildings that make up the character of the neighbourhood. All rooms have cross ventilation and balconies, and landscaping makes the building feel more like a detached house. In Glebe, tender documentation has been completed for a 17-studio new generation boarding house that looks like a contemporary four-storey multi-residential block and sensitively responds to its surrounding built and natural environment.

DesignInc_New-generation-boarding-houses_02Pictured above: Render of new generation boarding house in Glebe (Image credit: DesignInc)

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) has recognised DesignInc’s expertise in the design and development of new generation boarding houses. G Accommodation received a 2018 UDIA NSW Crown Group Awards for Excellence in Affordable Development. In addition, Savills recently invited Ian to present current designs and his thoughts on the future of new generation boarding house developments at a seminar event.

Image credit: DesignInc