We unveil unique suburban retrofit model in Australia

We are very pleased to have had our President, HRH, The Prince of Wales and Victoria Premier Ted Bailleu attend and speak at the Housing Melbourne Seminar in Melbourne sponsored by The Office of the Victorian Government Architect.

Our Chairman Michael Hintze, Vice Chairman Dominic Richards both attended the seminar, and Hank Dittmar unveiled our exciting new model for the city's suburbs and spoke on community engagement and empowerment. 

Prince Charles praised the Australian city's unique architectural history, as well as its strong commitment to "preserving the past and creating well-loved and well-used urban spaces in the present".

Speaking at the Melbourne National Gallery, Prince Charles said: "I have to say that there could hardly be a better place to hold a seminar focussed on a more liveable and sustainable future then here in Melbourne - a city and region that routinely tops the lists of the world’s most liveable places. In fact it was only this August that Melbourne came out on top – again!"

We believe that we need to work closely with the local population and government to ensure that this strong dedication to maintaining Melbourne's distinct character is preserved and fostered. 

The global trend of an ever-increasing urban population has not left Melbourne untouched, with growing suburbs and increasing demand for housing near the city. 

This move away from the city has given rise to highly car-dependent areas, consisting of largely low-density housing.

We see these neighbourhoods as an opportunity, and working closely with The Office of the Victorian Government Architect we have created a model for a sustainable suburban area, based on an existing low-density suburb. 

Presented at this week's symposium, the model offers a sustainable alternative to the current suburban development found in many of Melbourne’s surrounding areas. The model shows an existing low density suburb with one house per plot on one half, transformed to be greener and reflect contemporary living with three houses per plot based upon an updating of the popular Melbourne terraced house.

The aim was to create a place that is more environmentally friendly, healthier and less car-dependent, whilst enhancing a sense of community amongst its residents and updating historic forms to reflect contemporary living.

Speaking to the audience, Prince Charles said: "I cannot think of a better place for My Foundation to partner on this challenge than Melbourne, and the work exhibited here today begins to prove that we can keep the good things people associate with suburbia - family homes, safe environments, convenience and access to a bit of green space - all in an environment that is walkable and with houses that meet contemporary needs and are neutral and well ventilated." 

We hope to take our ideas for Melbourne forward over the next months, and are aiming to find a local community to collaborate with and start the first urban retrofit. Special thanks go to Professor Geoffrey London, Victorian Government Architect and Dr Tom Alves for their assistance and enthusiasm. The model was designed by Jan Maciag and Ben Bolgar.