words@bld50 monthly talks


Public lecture Thursday 4 September 2008: Grocon’s proposed urban homeless shelter

WHEN: Thursday 4 September 2008, 7.00pm
WHERE: RMIT Building 50, Orr St (off Victoria St) Carlton
WHO: David Waldren, Victorian Design Manager, Grocon

Construction giant Grocon has entered a partnership with the Victorian Government, Yarra Community Housing and non-profit organisation Homeground Services to build a supportive housing facility for the homeless at 660 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. It will be based on a New York model known as Common Ground, which incorporates the services the homeless may require in one facility.

The partnership was announced publicly by the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, on April 24, 2008. Grocon is building the facility at cost and many consultants with whom Grocon works have already agreed to work on an at-cost or pro bono basis. Works are expected to commence late in 2008 and be complete by around August 2010.

A national body known as Common Ground Australia has been formed, with Therese Rein as its national patron. This will be the first such facility in Victoria , although one has already been built in South Australia . Similar facilities for the homeless are planned right around the country.

David Waldren, Design Manager of Grocon’s Victorian arm, has managed several multi-million dollar projects in the past including a joint venture between the National Museum of Australia and the Australian Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. David is an architect and fellow of the Williamson Community Leadership program.

We invite you to learn more about the objectives behind this project and how they will be delivered.

Entry by gold coin donation, refreshments provided.

Help us to promote the event: view and download poster - here

Watch the video of the presentation...

Common Ground Supportive Housing Project from Architects for Peace on Vimeo.

Presented by David Waldren (Grocon) in conjunction with Architects for Peace Melbourne.

September 4, 2008


Peter said...

Thanks for organising that Eleanor, it was great to hear that this kind of action is happening at the big end of town. I had no idea.

eleanor said...

Thanks Peter, clearly a topic of interest for many judging from the great turn out last night and the barrage of questions. Will be interesting to see how the 'interest' David mentioned from the site's immediate neighbours plays out in responses to the planning application.

While there's no doubt that it's an admirable project for Grocon to have taken on board, could it be perceived as creating an undesirable poverty enclave in the CBD, the way the housing commission tower model has in inner-city areas? Having been inside a number of melbourne boarding houses myself, varying wildly in quality and security, the proposal certainly looks a sight better than some of the, quite frankly, appalling accommodation available in a few places.

Would be great to get a discussion going on this; please post your comments here.

Chris said...

Sorry to have missed it. I understand the 'ghetto' comment: I would have thought a great model was smaller dispersed facilities, although it's uneconomic to run them, probably. I'm involved in a project that includes a possible mix of affordable housing and market apartments - will be interesting to see how that pans out.

lauren said...

fantastic forum on thursday night and it was indeed reassuring to see so many turn up, engage and respond. i was so impressed with david's passion and commitment to the project. i've been chating about it with a friend who has been responsible for facilitating the hands-on project in birmingham (smaller projects, built by the residents and ended up with a 35% shar in the house), which is another interesting model. i think the key to avoid ghettoisation is the presence of services and the continued community consult.
there's talk of uploading his presentation to the site sometime soon - is that still a possibility?

eleanor said...

Lauren, we hope to post David's presentation here soon for those who missed out...he is seeking approval from Grocon to do so. the birmingham model you mentioned does sound interesting...i wonder if there's further info on the web that you could place a link to here?

beatriz said...

I thought that David gave us great examples about the life that the users of these facilities lead that helped us to place it in context. He referred to the fact that more than 90% of them are heavy smokers “and this will not change;” the “pissing in the corner” is also an illustrative image that gives us an idea of the social and physical conditions.
I don’t think he was saying that everyone was like that, but that this project is catering for the poorest of the poorest, people who many of us might have never really engaged with. These are not just poor people who will hopefully one day come out from poverty. These are people in extreme poverty, in which drugs and alcohol abuse is a main feature. So, shelter is already a great step. Permanent tenure (25% of their income), is another fabulous step (even with no the possibility of buying into the housing market). This means security for the rest of their lives, a ‘roof over their heads.’
But, as someone pointed out, ownership maybe an issue and it would be interesting to discuss why, in the face of permanent tenure (available to everyone in some countries), is ownership a concern. Why is it that we feel compelled to own?

kamil said...

I thought the talk was great. There were some ideas that could get even more developed to get them applicable to poor countries.

Beatriz asked an interesting question "why is it that we feel compelled to own?"

I believe this question has been addressed as far back as in 1840 by Proudhon in his book "Poperty is theft". It would be interesting if architectsforpeace can have discussion on the concept of ownership.

arch-peace said...

Here a link to HomeGround website: here

beatriz said...

Kamil, it would be great to organise something along the lines of ownership... perhaps a mix of theory, as you mentioned, and history (Australian cities). Any ideas of who you would like to hear from? 'Words' will have a break for summer but it will be back in February. I have a few ideas for the history part...

Peter said...

That video seems to have stopped working?

arch-peace said...

I tried to upload the video but it is too long for YouTube and I don't have the tools to edit it down. I will try to pass it to Nadya.

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