Density, Diversity + Design Done Well

Our entry to the Queensland government’s medium-density residential research competition. The back yard is one of Australian suburbia’s iconic spaces. We see it also as the opportunity to develop new models of densification that turn the private yard into community spaces through cooperative subdivision. The YIMBY model is a hybrid of the classic battle-axe block and the granny flat, offering a flexible model for local residents to collaborate with their neighbours and create new houses straddling back and side property boundaries through a range of shared subdivision scenarios. Traditionally private back and side yards are refocused in the YIMBY neighbourhood becoming the communal green space shared between homes while the front yard becomes the private domain, turning the every day life of the house back towards the public realm.

This example is of a 3 bedroom courtyard variant of the YIMBY home, for a young family. The design is based around a central courtyard providing substantial natural light and the opportunity for ventilation through the house. With a regular module, the design is also suggestive of kit-homes and, in keeping with the concept of mum’s and dad’s investing in their own suburb, could be repurposed as such a product to encourage the uptake of this development model. The simple planning and modular nature of the rooms is also easily adaptable into 2 or 1 bedroom models for intergenerational living or small scale affordable rental income housing.

A YIMBY neighbourhood develops over time – it’s a strategic and cumulative approach to suburb making as opposed to one from the top down. It’s an opt-in or opt-out approach that encourages local residents to benefit from collaboration while meeting broader density and sustainability objectives.

As the model advances and collaboration amongst neighbours becomes more frequent, the densification of neighbourhoods would create micro-communities within the blocks. In this instance, the backyard becomes an interconnected shared green space between a substantially densified neighbourhood without compromising the security and privacy of the residents. With ample passive surveillance and still maintaining private open space to the street-scape, the YIMBY neighbourhood is both street active and yard active bringing both residential and social density into the suburbs.