The MicroVillage project will explore the viability of affordable houses for those with limited funds and a desire for modestly-sized homes that minimise consumption of building materials, land and energy, and which integrate and link with the community in meaningful ways.
The marketing and availability of so-called ‘tiny homes’ is readily apparent, by way of community groups, dedicated businesses, and Netflix documentaries. However, it is also increasingly clear that tiny-houses (often on wheels) are not a viable, affordable housing model to accommodate those with limited income and wealth. HOME addresses this by testing the viability of affordable tiny-house alternatives in relation to five key issues:
1. Regulatory barriers: state-wide planning schemes and local council regulations;
2. Environmental design performance: integration with passive and active energy systems;
3. Design for aging-in-place
4. Financial modelling: up-front, on-going (including maintenance) and exit costs (including depreciation and opportunity costs) for residents, and compared with available alternatives.
5. Community integration: ensuring that the model supports social inclusion both within the development and with the surrounding neighbourhood.
The overall purpose of the project is to create an evidence base to enhance credibility for further funding; with the City of Greater Geelong promising support to identify a potential site, and stakeholders eager to put research into action.
Our project has two research phases, funded and run separately but with overlapping goals and outcomes. The first, Grey nesters: exploring the viability of affordable small houses for those with limited funds and desire for modestly-sized homes, is funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and will focus on the planning regulatory framework, financial modelling and viability, and design options for sustainability and ageing in place. The second phase, Homes for ‘Grey Nesters’: Social integration of a micro-village of small houses supporting community wellbeing in Geelong, funded by the Geelong Community Foundation, will then look at appropriate and effective ways to enable the micro-village to integrate and thrive within an existing community. As the evidence base develops, our intent is to begin discussions for future funding to partner and build the microvillage.
The research phase will again employ the use of the STICK-E (systems thinking in community knowledge exchange) data collection method designed and developed in-house at Deakin, in conjunction with other qualitative and quantitative methods.
The eventual aim is for the design, construction and evaluation of a place-based micro village that houses 6 to 12 residents in the Geelong region, demonstrating a comprehensive and harmonious integration of the village with the local community and environment. This would be a “living village” model able to evolve over time to support people as needed, thus providing an opportunity for residents to age in place. The flexibility in design allows the accommodation to be adapted to support different age groups and modes of mobility as required in the future. Ultimately, the aim is to develop a community that enables strong community connections, which in turn support positive health outcomes and social engagement for residents.
In line with the goals and ideals of the HOME Research Hub, our project team is partnering with MicroVillage Geelong, a taskforce of like-minded individuals supported by the efforts of Geelong Sustainability, who will provide insight and guidance throughout the process. For more information about the taskforce, or the efforts and collaboration from our funders, please refer to the following links: