First Platinum Level Housing Achieved in Townsville
“Smart, green and accessible” was the clear vision of Cootharinga North Queensland for the two new homes at Mallorca Circuit in Burdell, Townsville. Cootharinga is a not-for-profit charitable community organisation with a long history of supporting people who live with disabilities. With funding from Australian Government through its Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund (SAIF), the two unique, purpose-built and architecturally-designed homes were the first in Australia to be built to Platinum level, as outlined in the Livable Housing Design Guidelines.
Cootharinga was granted $840,450 to complete this new housing project and, according to Chief Executive Officer Brendan Walsh, “it was a bold project involving potential residents and their families from the earliest concept design.” The project has been called “My Smarter, Greener, Accessible home”. “The ‘my’ in the project refers to the fact that residents have been involved in decisions such as layout, design and choice of décor,” Brendan explains. “The project is smarter through cutting edge technology, such as NBN connections, delivering residents greater independence; greener with each building generating electricity, harvesting rainwater and maintaining wheelchair accessible garden beds and a chook pen; and accessible, as it achieved Platinum Level certification under the recent standards introduced by Livable Housing Australia.”
LHA’s Livable Housing Design Guidelines outline 16 design elements that contribute to a livable dwelling. All 16 elements are required in order to achieve Platinum level accreditation. “While achieving a Platinum rating was a requirement of the funding guidelines, Cootharinga was striving to obtain the highest possible accessible requirements for the homes,” Brendan explains.
The pavilion design consists of two homes, both with two bedrooms, as well as a self-contained staff sleepover dwelling with a single bedroom. Through clever design, the need for steps and ramps has been eliminated, with equal access provided to all areas of the building and site, not just the dwelling entrance. 970mm wide doors provide easy mobility, and corridors have been designed out of the dwellings. Walls are reinforced which allows grabrails to be fitted. All of the new residents and their families are excited about their new homes.
“These folk have moved from insecure, private rental. Their new livable homes will support them to have more active, rewarding lives for many years to come, even if their mobility does change. Also, the sustainability features incorporated will help reduce their living costs for decades to come. “The community support experienced with this project was fantastic and fully reflects Cootharinga’s vision of ’building a better world with people of all abilities’,” Brendan concludes.