Accessible Housing Design Winner Announced

3 August 2009

It's been decided - the winner of the City Council's Accessible Wellington Design Competition is Nelson-based architect, Richard Carver.

The competition was launched at the Accessible Wellington Forum on Housing and Accommodation in April this year and registered architects had just over two months to come up with a design to meet the accessibility needs of tenants in a typical City Council residence.

Richard's design focuses on a two-bedroom solution that amalgamates four bedsits in an economical way. He says his company, Redbox Architects, had actually come up with six designs for the competition, and entered two after some deliberation.

"I'm glad that this one won the competition in the end - it was my preferred design," says Richard. "It's always satisfying converting older buildings to new use. This design should appeal to a wide range of people as there is lots of space for people to manoeuvre in. It should truly maximise the potential of the site."

Bill Wrightson, one of the judges, said the entries offered an imaginative range of possibilities for incorporating accessibility and addressing the other requirements of the brief.   

"We thought that the winning design best addressed the whole site for the accessible route from the street to the unit and within the unit itself," says Bill. "The design also expressed - in a visual and practical way - how to enhance an existing building, as well as providing a good site-specific solution."

Judges included two architects, one from the Council's Housing Upgrade Project, as well as representatives from the Wellington's Disability Reference Group (DRG). The DRG is made up of people with experience of disability - they advise the Council on issues that concern people with disabilities in Wellington.

Staff from the Housing Upgrade Project will take the winning ideas into consideration for the upgrade designs.

The Council's representative on the DRG, Councillor Iona Pannett, says the competition was a timely way to source innovative designs for people with specific accessibility requirements.

"We've just started work on upgrading our entire Council housing stock, where we're making the flats and houses more liveable and comfortable for our tenants," says Cr Pannett.

"So this was the perfect time to hold the competition and look at the issues and raise awareness of the importance of accessibility in design. I congratulate Richard on winning the competition - he's come up with a great design."

So the designs could be accessed by blind people, the finalists were asked to build tactile models of their designs. Richard's model was coded with different textures and keyed in Braille.

Richard won first prize of $2,000. He was also awarded second prize of $1,000 for another design. Andrew Sexton, from Andrew Sexton Architecture, Wellington, was awarded third prize of $1,000.