Is the Nightingale Housing model the architecture of the future?

The new co-operative urban housing model that is socially, financially and environmentally sustainable.

At the time of the latest census in 2016, almost five million Australians were living communally, an increase of 42.2 percent from 2001.

While families make up the majority of that figure, more of us are sharing our lives than ever before, echoing the global trend towards socially sustainable housing, where unrelated individuals combine their efforts and share aspects of living for collective community benefit.

But while there’s undoubtedly a thirst for socially conscious housing, there isn’t always existing infrastructure to support it.

Cognisant of this groundswell, a team of Melbourne-based architects pooled their funds, resources and ideas to imagine what a housing revolution could look like.

“The Nightingale model was born out of a desire to create better housing with an overarching priority towards social, economic and environmental sustainability,” explains Nightingale Housing project associate Dominica Watt.

“In the Australian housing market, Nightingale is seen as revolutionary, but the concept of community-focused, environmentally conscious housing has been commonplace in Europe for the past 100 years. We are constantly looking to countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Denmark for inspiration.”

Since launching its first property – Nightingale 1, in Brunswick, Victoria in 2014 – the project team has responded to unprecedented demand by beginning work on a further four locations in Melbourne and one in Fremantle, Western Australia.

Purposefully placed in thriving, urban neighbourhoods, the properties contain from 15 to 38 apartments plus a range of social features including shared community gardens and rooftop communal socialising areas. A Nightingale Village of 210 units is also at planning stage.

One of the key factors that sets Nightingale apart from traditional residential developments is the cost. Nightingale Housing works to a zero-profit-on-cost financial model.

With no involvement from real estate agents or professional marketing teams, significant savings are passed on to purchasers – making the properties accessible to people from a wide socio-economic range.

Furthermore, Nightingale’s focus on community is not just lip-service or marketing jargon, but a cornerstone and key factor of their model, introduced on day one.

As Watt explains, “Nightingale projects foster early engagement with purchasers through a deliberative design process – involving future residents from the beginning of the design stage right through to completion. By the time they move in, their community is already formed.”

The Nightingale approach to sustainability is also second to none, with building operations that are 100 per cent fossil-fuel free and a minimum 7.5 star NatHERS thermal rating, plus water harvesting and produce gardens.

Within walking distance to a range of public amenities, including transport, car-sharing facilities, cultural attractions and nightlife, Nightingale properties typically have no private car parking, instead encouraging residents to consider more sustainable modes of transport such as cycling.

With a slew of design and sustainability awards under its belt, plus a huge waiting list for apartments, the Nightingale project has clearly struck a chord with both the industry and consumers – providing a refreshing alternative to traditional housing which, in turn, combats urban sprawl, reduces carbon emissions and fosters a genuine sense of community.

“The project is about building a place that people wanted to live in, a place they would love, a place they would call home. At its heart, Nightingale is all about people,” says Watt. “Its architecture serves as a catalyst to unite a group of similar values and build a community.”

Related Content

View more