Creative Country

Published 2 March 2023

Written By Joel Benichou

We think an opportunity exists to explore alternative regional housing models that could ease the housing crisis faced in our cities and provide solutions to the issues faced by rural communities.

Photograph - Harry Cunningham

The places we live in can transform the way we live. I believe our homes are not only here to provide the amenity required for living, but are also critical in shaping who we are as people and how we experience daily life. For creative workers, houses are often places for living, places for working and places of inspiration. Creative output comes in many shapes and sizes, and crafting homes specifically for creatives can not only transform their way of life, but also the life of those around them.

We have been thinking about how, as architects, we can use our skills to help solve some issues we care about. One of the issues we have tackled is the challenges of housing in regional and rural Australia. Our towns currently face significant challenges including issues such as an ageing population, unemployed youth, low housing availability and loss of skilled workers to urban centers. Alongside these issues, there has been a shift in the composition of Australian households and the way we expect our homes to function.

The post-pandemic environment has seen further changes to the types of homes people desire and the ways we want our homes to work. Have you ever considered a tree change? Escaping the city for greener pastures? Well, you are not alone. In fact, over 60% of Australians who currently don’t live in regional areas have thought about their living situation and have considered moving away from the city. We think an opportunity exists to explore alternative regional housing models that could ease the housing crisis faced in our cities and provide solutions to the issues faced by rural communities. More innovative housing solutions are required to attract creative workers and help combat the challenges faced in regional and rural Australia.

WeltenLinie - Alicja Kwade - 2020 - NGV

Inexhaustible demand for land and housing has led to prices of the inner suburbs reaching record levels, while the cheaper alternatives continue to sprawl further into the outer reaches of the city. Cities like Melbourne have well-established and successful creative hubs. These precincts provide diverse and engaging environments that attract people from around Australia. The success and desirability of these precincts can be attributed to the creatives who originally established these areas. However, some segments of these creative producers are being forced out of the suburbs and precincts they helped develop. Artists, producers and creative trades are looking to new regions to establish their homes, workshops, offices and studios. Rural towns have an opportunity to capitalise on this shift and create townships with more jobs, greater diversity and lower rural to urban migration. This influx of people and creatives, would bring more vibrant public spaces, cultural diversity, retail and hospitality outlets and a proliferation of cultural events and facilities.

The provision of deliberate housing, specifically geared towards the needs of workers in the creative industries, could provide an opportunity to attract and retain people in regional areas that will boost innovation, revitalise local economies and provide inspiring and vibrant places to live. Creative industries contribute $22.7 billion to the Victorian economy alone.The Victorian Government is currently spending $5 million on pilot projects with an aim to address housing shortages in regional areas needing more workers. Further research is required to shape policy and highlight options for towns to capitalise on the economic potential of Creative Workers. The housing needs and live-work scenarios of these Creative Workers and creative trade-based jobs must be investigated to uncover a larger variety of attractive and financially accessible housing solutions that will in turn, attract and retain these workers in the rural and regional areas.

Harcourt Homestead - Archive

The existence, demand and effectiveness of live-work scenarios are still largely unknown in Australia. Exploration and research into the housing needs and desires of Creative Workers and their relation to the inefficiencies and problems of our rural and regional centres is desperately needed. This research, when paired with architectural solutions, has the potential to provide a new regional housing movement that could boost local economy and satisfy the demands and preferences of the creative community while providing valuable insight into the requirement for alternative housing models within a post-pandemic, Australian context.

Here at Archive, we are constantly striving to use design to solve problems. If we can make change utilising our design skills, then we are moving in the right direction.

Quantum Memories - Refik Anadol - 2020 - NGV

We offer deep respect to the traditional custodians of this land and honour their ancestors who have nurtured and cared for this country for thousands of years. We pay homage to the living cultures, languages, and knowledge systems of the Noongar, Wurundjeri and all Indigenous Australian peoples.