Gold Coast micro development wins national award

A pioneering Gold Coast ‘micro’ project is getting big attention, taking out a prestigious national award as its architect prepares to turn the sod on her next tiny development in south east Queensland.

Featuring homes built on land ranging from just 38sqm in Southport, ENVI Micro Urban Village has been recognised with a Good Design Award Gold Accolade in the Architectural Design Commercial and Residential category of the Good Design Awards.

Architect Amy Degenhart, the brains behind the project, was also one of five finalists in the Good Design Awards 2020 Women in Design, alongside creatives, innovators and researchers from diverse fields.

Amy, who heads architecture firm degenhartSHEDD and tiny-lot developer Bubbl Up, said the Good Design Award for ENVI was recognition of the significant benefits of micro design.
The awards attracted a record 835 design projects from around Australia, with more than 55 jurors evaluating each entry on its ‘good design’, ‘design innovation’ and ‘design impact’.

“Micro-lot development is one answer to our housing affordability issues and the lack of traditional developable land in inner-city areas,” she said.

“Showcasing how thoughtful and innovative design can result in beautiful, liveable micro abodes, it provides a peek into the future of housing development, where we don’t need to go ‘up’ or ‘out’ to cater to growing populations.

“This style of development makes better use of infill sites that serve to reinforce neighbourhood character rather than replace it, providing gentle rejuvenation while delivering housing density, diversity and affordability in the process.

“It is ideal for locations close to amenities, jobs and public transport, making more efficient use of existing infrastructure, creating positive health, lifestyle and community benefits, as well as contributing to improved financial wellbeing for homeowners.”

The Good Design Awards jury praised ENVI Micro Urban Village, commenting: “This challenge – to transform one house into ten desirable affordable homes – is an important case study for our growing cities. The homes are thoughtfully designed to respect the local context and to overcome fears of higher density within the local community. This project demonstrates a new approach to high-density housing that is both affordable and aesthetically stimulating. Good to see a high level of original and innovative thinking behind this successful outcome.”

Located on a 673sqm site on the corner of Meron and Lenneberg streets in Southport, ENVI comprises ten freehold home sites, nine of which have already been constructed as house and land packages, with the last – and largest home – soon to be commenced. As an innovative strategy, some buyers were given the option to opt out of a car space to further boost affordability, while actively supporting the principles of a walkable community.

ENVI has already won a string of awards, including the AIA Gold Coast Northern Rivers Architecture Awards Regional Project of the Year and the AIA 2020 GCNR Brian Mossop and Ken Newton People’s Choice Award.

Amy is preparing to start construction in the coming months on her next infill development in south east Queensland at Slacks Creek, which is part of the State Government’s Better Neighbourhood Logan initiative, aimed at delivering new affordable housing options in the region.

Through her family development company Urban Pure, which she heads along with former Varsity Lakes project manager and co-director Martyn Shedd, the small lot project on Wagensveldt Street will follow in the footsteps of ENVI, with the potential to yield up to 10 affordable homes – a few of them containing a single bedroom – with prices to start under $300,000.

“We are in the early development stages for this new project but are excited about the possibilities,” Amy said.

“We found 70 per cent of buyers at ENVI were first home buyers, which demonstrates this style of housing has the desired effect of helping people step into the market.

“Interestingly, we also found the homes appealed to empty-nesters wanting to downsize to an area with an array of amenities at the doorstep while unlocking equity, and to second home buyers keen to upgrade their lifestyle by adding an element of style and autonomy not available in a community title complex.

“We hope to achieve a similar balance of interest in this new project at Logan, adding to the vibrancy and diversity of the community.”

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