Studio Bright <em>Women’s property initiative older women’s housing project</em> 2021. Courtesy of the architects<br/>
© Studio Bright. Photo: Rory Gardiner

Studio Bright

Studio Bright
(est. 2006, Melbourne)

Studio Bright is a Melbourne-based design practice that creates enduring and responsive architecture. Led by founding director Melissa Bright, Studio Bright considers each project an opportunity to contribute positively to the social and built fabric of a place through design. Whether residential, civic, educational or multi-residential, each project is bound by a sense of craft and considered detail.

Studio Bright’s Older Women’s Housing Project was a pilot scheme for Women’s Property Initiatives, an organisation that provides secure and affordable homes for low-income women and women-led families in Australia. Completed in 2021, the project is shared equity housing consisting of four modest, high-quality dwellings designed to accommodate older single women who are on lower incomes and at risk of homelessness. The brief was to provide these women with security of tenure as well as enduring affordability. With a modest size and budget, Studio Bright worked hard to ensure the design transcends the functional requirements of the brief, providing robust and generous homes of the highest quality, while remaining simple and affordable for the inhabitants.

Masonry brick construction was chosen as a sympathetic response to the context of the suburban neighbourhood street. Each unit features a high, sloped ceiling over the living spaces, designed to catch the sunlight and give a sense of scale to the modestly sized homes, while also creating rhythm and variation in the overall roofscape of the project. All four dwellings also respond to their solar orientation, with living spaces and private gardens situated to the north. With solar panels on the roof, rainwater tanks and good cross-ventilation throughout, the ongoing running cost for each dwelling is minimised. The floor plans are configured to allow adaptation as the needs of the inhabitants change over time, providing residents with the option to age in place. The units are also carefully designed to accommodate Livable Housing Australia Gold design guidelines and the NDIS Improved Liveability standards.

In 2022, Studio Bright’s Women’s Property Initiatives Older Women’s Housing Project received a commendation at the Australian Institute of Architects’ Victorian Architecture Awards in the Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing category, with the jury stating: ‘The deft application of material, detail and colour demonstrates what can be achieved within a very modest budget through skilful architectural intervention’.