Housing especially in Australia, currently fails in the key areas of affordability, design, build-quality, social cohesion and flexibility of ownership - making it both environmentally unsustainable and taxing on the fabric of society. Despite shelter being one of our most fundamental needs, even highly educated members of society with considerable incomes are feeling increasingly distressed, as inner-urban house prices spiral upwards. This forces people to choose between short-term rental agreements (with little long-term stability) and thirty odd years of inflexibility in life-choices (while servicing mortgage debt).
In Melbourne alone - more than a quarter of a million new houses will need to be built by 2021 to accommodate the growing population.
Melbourne's housing crisis is encouraging people to begin to consider more innovative housing options, including sharing facilities and resources as well as smaller footprint housing.
To counter undesirable and unsustainable urban sprawl – some solutions that have been implemented include medium density apartment blocks (such as The Artist in Fitzroy), eco apartments (such as The Commons in Brunswick), cohousing (such as Murundaka Cohousing) and ecovillage style communities (such as Westwyck in Brunswick). These, however, have been ad-hoc in nature, do not follow a standardised model or methodology to aid repeatability, and leave room for improvement. Similarly, previous communities have been forced to operate under inappropriate body corporate regulations, which chokes community interaction, decision making and sharing of facilities.
Smart Communities in turn, can be defined as those which:
automatically provide comfortable conditions for occupants through intelligent and passive solar design
better support sustainable lifestyles – enabling community interaction and synergies such as readily accessible shared resources and many in-built common facilities
are cheaper to operate in the long term, compared to contemporary forms of housing, and