Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) owns 1,556 properties in Melbourne and regional Victoria, providing affordable housing to over 4,000 low income Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. AHV Dandenong transforms a 1000 sqm site into 10 x 1- and 2-bedroom homes for diverse tenants and reimagines the connection to culture and Country possible in urban social housing settings.
The design drew inspiration from the culture and Country of the Ngaruk Willam people. Materials were selected that reference local stone and the built form was inspired by temporary shelters, Mia Mia, used for seasonal harvesting. The curves of the Mia Mia are translated into the sweeping roof form over the loft apartments. This creates the appearance of a townhouse typology from the street, which was and integrates the project into the streetscape.
At its heart is a communal courtyard that links all residences visually and physically. Plants were selected for their symbolic meanings and traditional uses in medicine and tools. Grantie and volcanic boulder in the surrounding area has been referenced in gabion stone walls at the front of the building and rock features in the communal garden. The landscaping shares the narrative of Country and can be used by residents as a cultural learning tool or as a space to play, relax and connect.