Housing affordability in Perth and Australia as a whole is a problem that architects need to help address in order to help accommodate the projected population growth of Western Australia, which is forecast to reach 6.6 million by 2061 (ABS 2013). Currently, the majority of Perth’s housing stock is only affordable to higher income households; less than 1% is affordable to very low income households and only 8% is affordable to low income households (Department of Communities 2016). Profit driven developers have little regard to the architectural and design quality of the housing that they are peddling. This design quality not only refers to appearance but also the functionality, sustainability, flexibility, affordability and contextual aspects of a building (Department of Planning 2016). This lack of design consideration also contributes to many urban problems in our city, including; suburban sprawl, lack of density, community identity, walkability and proximity to amenities, the quality of public space and the integration/relationship of public space with the private realm. There is a need for better designed, sustainable and more affordable infill housing in Perth in order to negate these problems and improve the lifestyle of its residents.

Suburban sprawl in northern Perth

Suburban sprawl in northern Perth

Nightingale & Baugruppen

Emerging housing development models such as Nightingale and the German Baugruppen can help to mitigate these problems through good design and the use of architects. The Nightingale model seeks to create; ‘high-quality housing that is ecologically, socially and financially sustainable’ (Nightingale 2017). Architect and client engagement coupled with the investment of ethical developers who agree to a capped profit plus the removal of marketing and display suites result in a housing design that is of higher quality, client/community focused and more affordable overall (Nightingale 2017). Landcorp’s Baugruppen at WGV (White Gum Valley) development is based on the German model of the same name and works through the investment of the homeowners themselves into the land and construction costs of the project. This development model targets a 15% saving on the market value of the dwelling (Baugruppen 2017). Similarly to the Nightingale model, an architect is engaged to closely develop the design with the clients again resulting in a higher quality, more affordable design. The ‘true’ Baugruppen (Building Group) development model in Germany is generally more self-initiated. It is driven by the clients who form their own ‘building group’ then engage with an architect to take the project forward (Ring 2013). In the case of the Nightingale, the project is formed and driven by an architect, and for Baugruppen at WGV a government agency is the instigator of the project; both models require the clients to then invest or buy into the projects.

The study tours

Thanks to the generous award provided by the Architects Board of Western Australia, the opportunity to travel and visit the Nightingale and Baugruppen projects is now a reality. A week long trip to Melbourne in July 2018 will provide the foundation from which to study these emerging housing models in Australia. In mid-2019, the scope of the research will extend to Europe where a two month study tour is in the early stages of planning.

Nightingale 1 (NG1), Brunswick VIC, by Breathe Architecture

Nightingale 1 (NG1), Brunswick VIC, by Breathe Architecture

MELBOURNe, victoria

In July of 2018, a week long study tour will be undertaken which will involve site visits and analysis of the two present Nightingale projects; The Commons and NG1. In addition to this will be interviews with the architects of the in development 'Nightingale Village' will be undertaken. These include; Breathe Architecture, WOWOWA, Hayball, Austin Maynard Architects, Architecture Architecture, Kennedy Nolan and Clare Cousins Architects. Interviews with residents of NG1 will also be conducted in order to understand the architecture and development model from an inhabitants perspective.

The City of Perth (Google Earth Pro)

The City of Perth (Google Earth Pro)

Big Yard, Berlin, by Zanderroth Architekten (image © Simon Menges via Archdaily)

Big Yard, Berlin, by Zanderroth Architekten (image © Simon Menges via Archdaily)

BERLIN, germany / EUROPE

Berlin is a hotspot of Baugruppen development and present a diverse range of projects to study. Research in Berlin will last between 3-4 weeks, living in the inner-city to gain a new perspective of the city. Berlin boasts projects with total floor areas ranging from 240m2 up to 27,000m2 (Ring 2013). The European tour will also encompass visits to the Netherlands and Spain. The Eastern Dockland area of Amsterdam has a diversity of housing typologies and contemporary residential architecture and Spanish housing examples provide a unique opportunity to study due to shared climatic conditions with Western Australia.

perth, western australia

Nightingale Fremantle

There are also opportunities in Perth to study some projects that are currently underway. EDHO Architecture have been given a Nightingale license to develop a project in Fremantle that has just received planning approval. Located at 29 Wood Street within the Knutsford precinct, the Nightingale Freo is only a short 10 minute walk from the heart of Fremantle.

Baugruppen at WGV

Spaceagency in association with Landcorp are developing a Baugruppen project at White Gum Valley. The project is a design made up of modules that are capable of accommodating 17 dwellings of various types. The project is still in the early stages of development but would provide a good opportunity to study.

Urban Infill Developments

There are a number of infill developments happening around Perth that could provide the basis for analysis of the current housing stock. There are both good and bad examples that could be looked at. Through comparing these projects to the Nightingale developments in Melbourne and housing examples in Europe, a better understanding of how best to implement the positive social, environmental and financial aspects of Nightingale and Baugruppen can be achieved.

Anticipated Outcomes

Through analysis of selected projects, and interviews with key stakeholders an understanding of the following will be achieved; Common/shared spaces (and resident desire for), Social interaction/sustainability, Urban/neighbourhood relationship of the project, affordability, density, sustainability and adaptability and Architect/client relationship

Engaging with the architects, planners and residents of housing developments as the key stakeholders an understanding of how to better implement Nightingale, Baugruppen and other European housing models in Perth (and Australia) can be achieved. Interviews with these stakeholders will provide me with the different viewpoints concerning these projects and the relationship between each and how to best achieve the outcomes desired in the projects. The analysis of a diverse range of selected projects in association with this engagement of key stakeholders will contribute to the understanding of how these housing projects achieve affordability and liveability for their residents.

As a research platform, BUILDgruppe desires to help provide solutions that enhance the affordability, social sustainability, community engagement and urban integration of housing developments in Australia. Increasing the impact of the architecture profession within the scope of housing is a main goal for BUILDgruppe, this will help regain a part of the residential housing market for architects and advocate for the profession to be further associated with high quality and affordable housing developments.


BUILDgruppe Maylands is a movement for self-initiated housing that aims to build affordable, high-quality medium density apartments in the heart of Maylands.

Self-initiated housing is where residents, not developers, are the driving force behind their own housing. BUILDgruppe Maylands will be based on the German concept of Baugruppen, a resident driven model that bypasses developers to deliver housing at cost in a socially and environmentally conscious way.

The project is currently seeking people to join the ‘Gruppe’ to be owner-occupiers in the development. If you think you may be interested, you can join the mailing list here.



ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics). 2013. 3222.0 - Population Projections, Australia, 2012 (base) to 2101. Canberra, ACT: ABS. nsf/Lookup/3222.0main+features112012%20(base)%20to%202101.

Archdaily. 2017. “Big Yard / Zanderroth Architekten.” Archdaily. https://www.archdaily. com/793287/bigyard-zanderroth-architekten.

Baugruppen. 2017. “About - Baugruppen at WGV.” Landcorp (Western Australian Land Au thority.

Department of Communities. 2016. Housing Affordability: A study for the Perth metropolitan area, WA: Government of Western Australia. http://www. HousingDocuments/Housing_Affordability_Re port_2016_Perth_Metro_Area.pdf.

Department of Planning. 2016. Apartment Design, Volume Two of State Planning Policy No. 7.3 Residential Design Codes - Guidance for multiple-dwelling and mixed-use developments. sign_Policy_DRAFT_.pdf.

Nightingale. 2017. “About - The Nightingale Model.” Nightingale Housing. http://nightingale

Ring, Kristien, ed. 2013. Selfmade City: Berlin: Stadtgestaltung Und Wohnprojekte in Eigen initiative = Self-Initiated Urban Living and Architectural Interventions. Berlin: Jovis.