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A REAL boost for affordability

NORTHBRIDGE-BASED Copraxis Architects says winning two out of three categories in LandCorp's regional affordable living challenge will allow it to shift its strategy and establish a larger presence in regional Western Australia.

Lands Minister Brendon Grylls last week presented Copraxis and its partner, Samson Homes, with the South West and Pilbara sections of LandCorp's Regional Environmental Affordable Living (REAL) Challenge, while North Fremantle-based SIA Architects and Northern Aspect Construction won the Kimberley house category.

The REAL challenge brief was to design an affordable, energy efficient three-bedroom, two-bathroom house tailored to the specific climates in the three regions.

A panel of experts selected a shortlist of entries, which were then voted on by regional residents.

Copraxis director Matthew Young said working in the regions was a new challenge where his firm could focus more on sustainable living and green design outcomes, rather than simply on aesthetics.

“For us it is a shift in strategy towards more work outside the metropolitan area," Mr Young told WA Business News.

“We find the attitude towards design in the regions is refreshingly progressive, and sometimes even more so than the city.

“The inner city can certainly be innovative, but there's sort of a refreshing shift in values as you move into the regional areas, where it's not about style, it's more about the substance of something.

“It's more about what the building can do for them, how it performs and what kind of lifestyle it offers, rather than the emphasis being on what it looks like.

“The other benefit is the win should give us a little bit of exposure in the regions, which is a good thing because we've just recently been doing more work there and we are really enjoying those opportunities."

Mr Young also said the REAL Challenge was a good way to showcase Copraxis' commitment to green building practices.

“Good design incorporates green design - there really is no separation," he said.

“What (the challenge) means is we can fully test our ideas in the built form, rather than just as a theoretical design.

“It will allow us to take through these ideas that we think are pretty innovative, and test them in the real world.

“Because we've worked so closely with the builder, we will be able to see exactly what the monetary impact of our design decisions are, as well as the physical and climatic impacts of our design decisions."

SIA Architects director Sasha Ivanovich said the structure of the REAL Challenge would help promote green building principles in the affordable housing sector.

“The budget boundaries were quite strictly set, which makes it harder because it's supposed to be a low-cost house," he said.

“It's easy to put lots of features and things when you can spend whatever money you want, it's much harder to do so when you have a very tight budget.

“By LandCorp promoting construction of this kind of affordable energy efficient dwelling, it will encourage others to do the same.

“Eventually it's really up to the public to demand this kind of thing, which I think is going to happen, hopefully, in due course."

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