5 minutes with our Alternative Housing Ideas Challenge registrar Stephen Varady

The challenge calls for ideas to boost the diversity of housing across the city.

The City of Sydney is encouraging new ways of thinking about housing. The Alternative Housing Ideas Challenge is open to anyone with new and innovative ideas for the housing sector. Up to 6 participants will receive $20,000 each to further develop their concepts following consideration by an independent jury.

Stephen Varady is the registrar of the ideas challenge.

Why were you selected as registrar of the ideas challenge?

I have prepared and run design processes in Australia for over 25 years.

I have run 2 competitions on behalf of the City of Sydney: the Green Square Library and Plaza and the Gunyama Park and Aquatic Centre. Both were anonymous 2-stage design challenges, where highly imaginative concepts created by very talented, less established architects were uncovered. The library and plaza is complete. The park and aquatic centre is under construction.

I also ran Wagga Wagga Civic Centre Architectural Design Competition. The centre was built and recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Last year, I ran the Frankston Station Design Challenge for the Victorian Government.

Alternative Housing Ideas Challenge registrar Stephen Varady

What sort of ideas is the challenge encouraging?

The City is looking for new and innovative ideas that go beyond the traditional categories of social, community and market housing.

The challenge will contribute to the delivery of alternative and affordable housing outcomes that are replicable and scalable, for use by the local and broader community.

The City is looking for new ways to deliver, finance, build and manage affordable alternative housing.

Ideas can challenge current planning regulations. We are interested in concepts that look beyond the market-dominated norms.

Participants may focus on financing, strategic thinking or design-led solutions - or a combination of these.

In essence, this ideas challenge is about thinking in new, creative and positive ways to uncover boundary-changing attitudes towards the future of housing.

What will the process be for choosing up to 6 shortlisted proposals?

Once participants have lodged their proposals in line with the ideas challenge conditions, the City’s contact officer and probity adviser will audit them to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria and don’t contain any visible markings identifying the author.

An independent jury of professionals will then go through all anonymous eligible proposals.

At the close of deliberations, the independent jury will recommend the City funds up to 6 proposals to further develop those ideas.

Who’ll benefit from alternative housing models?

Everyone - locally, nationally and internationally - could benefit from the delivery of new alternative housing models.

This includes individuals and families that don’t currently have access to affordable housing and cities looking to alleviate demands on housing supply. There are also broader community benefits in realising integrated social equity outcomes.

What does this challenge mean for Sydney’s future?

This challenge recognises the need for continued leadership on housing affordability. Access to alternative and affordable housing is an essential component of a diverse, cohesive, and economically successful global city.

The potential is there for Sydney to be a true world leader in alternative housing thinking and provision. Sydney may well influence other cities around the country and around the world to follow.

View more information about the Alternative Housing Ideas Challenge.

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