DHA Off-Base Live-In Accommodation Proof of Concept Study
Defence Housing Australia
Stockton Peninsula, NSW
Following the design of the master plan for the Stockton Rifle Range and Fort Wallace sites for Defence Housing Australia (DHA), Architectus was further commissioned to explore architectural design concepts for housing of defence staff on the Fort Wallace site.
Acquired by DHA, the former Defence site is located on the Stockton Peninsula approximately 12 kilometres from Williamtown RAAF Base, and in proximity to the Stockton shopping centre and Newcastle CBD in New South Wales. The site is elevated and incorporates a level former sports ground and undulating dunes.
DHA’s vision was to deliver an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable integrated community that retained the coastal character and historic identity of the site while providing a mix of housing forms that could be adapted to another residential typology in the future.
During the initial master planning stage, Architectus investigated design concepts for a Communal Apartment typology. This was further developed into an Off-Base Live-In Accommodation (LIA) Proof of Concept Study.
The LIA Proof of Concept Study was to incorporate DHA’s updated housing requirements, allow for future adaptability and explore two living modes – Open Plan and an Activity Zones option.
During the study, advantages and disadvantages were identified for both living modes in the context of the sites constraints. Ultimately, Architectus designed a unit that was similar in size and features for both.
The unit design comprises a modest-sized and self-contained home with 3-metre tall ceilings to increase the sense of space and improve passive ventilation. Openings are maximised to capture light and views of the coastline. Floorplans for both the Open Plan and Activity Zones typologies allow for an operable screen to be incorporated to separate the living and sleeping areas, while the Activity Zones layout enables the bed space to be completely enclosed. A footprint for a balcony has been included in both unit types to allow the space to be utilised in future unit conversions.
The overall block layout enables single units to be combined to create a mix of studio, one-bed, two-bed and three-bedroom units. Working closely with a structural engineer here safeguarded the placement of structural members to suit both a LIA layout and future residential apartment layouts.
A semi-enclosed and abundantly landscaped walkway creates an attractive space for internal circulation and encourages passive ventilation for environmental comfort. The active ground floor street frontage includes entries for accessible dwellings, and shared indoor and outdoor spaces for social activities.
Expressed with light and detailed use of soft and weathering materials such as timber and coreten steel, the architectural composition of the proposed LIA building is in sympathy with the beautiful but sensitive coastal site at Stockton Peninsula.
The Off-Base Live-In Accommodation Proof of Concept Study achieves a high number of units on the Fort Wallace site and ways for it to be modified in the future to allow different types of residential apartments to be configured, pending applicable planning pathways. It has the potential to provide defence workers with high quality housing suited to their needs while delivering a great sense of community.