Better, cheaper apartments in Melbourne might provide New Zealand with a model. WILL HARVIE reports in The Press
Architects design, they don’t develop. But in Melbourne a group of architects are getting into the development game and doing it their way, an ethical way.
“We are not trying to squeeze out every last dollar,” says James Legge, a founding director of Six Degrees Architects and a key player in the Nightingale model of sustainable apartment development.
“Our cities and their inhabitants deserve beautiful, well-built and well-sized homes designed for real life,” reads the Nightingale website. “At present, the market is not delivering this and as long as the current formula remains profitable, there is no incentive to raise the bar on the status quo.”
The Nightingale social enterprise model starts with about 20 ethical investors. Some of these are architects – mid-career designers who can manage a $100,000 investment, says Legge – but others are sophisticated investors who lean toward doing good with their money….
…It turns out that the model works well with buildings four or five stories high and 20 to 30 units. These buildings are in the “European mode”, Legge says, small enough that all living there will know each other and still having a connection to the street. “It’s not like they’re living in the sky,” he says….
… Purchasers also must participate in Nightingale’s financial model. They’re getting well-designed apartments at low cost but they signed contracts that forbid flipping for a quick buck. Owners must sell to people on the database and they get only the original purchase price, the value of any improvements plus a bump calculated from indexed apartment price rises from the surrounding neighbourhood. “There’s no windfall for the first seller,” Legge says by phone from Melbourne…
James Legge will be speaking at Green Building Council’s Sustainable Housing Summit in Auckland on June 15 and Christchurch on June 17.
Rosemary reflects: Love their model – engaging people in the process of design, bypassing some of the underlying costs by combining functions, and limiting the way apartments can be on sold to avoide speculation