Density in all major cities around the world has been a challenge for architects and urban planners to work around. The high level of liveability in Australian cities means this issue will only be compounded, even with growth strategy plans implemented.
While the clustering of the masses can be problematic, according to designers in both Melbourne and Sydney, it can also unlock huge potential in the housing sector through the return of terrace housing.
Already popular in cities such as Melbourne, Sydney, San Francisco and London, the terrace aesthetic is one that creates strong curb appeal, offering a distinct cultural richness to the area in which terrace housing projects are situated.
Now, however, the humble terrace could do more than add character to a city. According to Committee for Sydney chief executive Dr. Tim Williams, the structures could actually the most efficient way to build high density cities in the 21st century.
While most Australian terraces fit into the Victorian or Edwardian architectural eras, Williams says the modern industry faces the challenge of reinterpreting these buildings to maximise their potential for a new generation of Australian homeowners.
”Now we’re issuing a challenge to all architects and architectural schools around the nation – to come up with a 21st-century form of the terrace,” says Williams. “‘The terrace is one of the most successful forms of human habitation, and everyone loves terraced housing.”
This challenge has already been met by designers such Evgeni Leonov Architects in the UK, who have reinterpreted the terrace house with their concept for the new London Terrace.
Designed to take on an egg-like form, the London Terrace calls for masses of curving terraced blocks that rely on highly insulating materials and the uniquely efficient form to reduce heat consumption of the space in a manner that meets passive standards.
London is not, however, the only major city looking into renewals and reinterpretations of these buildings. According to BIS Shrapnel associate director Kim Hawtrey, developments of the terrace nature have been increasingly on the rise over the past decade.
”There’s some evidence in the figures that there’s been a real increase in building activity in the area of terraces and townhouses over the last five to 10 years,” Hawtrey says.
While grandiose urban planning schemes may be the key to tackling density in the long run, a simple solution to meeting the needs of a growing population may have been be right on our front doorsteps all along.