“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.”
– Yvon Chouinard
At Assemble, we believe that sustainability is as much about conducting our business with integrity and passion as it is about environmentally sustainable design. In addition to outlining what we stand for – our Assemble ‘brand pillars’ are below – we want to briefly share the context for our beliefs, the locally focused but globally engaged thinking that has sparked the foundation of Assemble.
Currently, Australian homes (houses and apartments) are the largest in the world. At an average of 214 square metres, they are 10% larger than the average 195 square metre McMansion in the United States and 56% larger than the average 137 square metre home in Denmark, the largest homes in Europe. While we’ve made significant inroads in our nation’s short history to embrace small footprint living, we still have a long way to go to embrace it fully like most countries have overseas.
We love our country and we love our city. So, it’s part of our personal brief to have a positive impact on the urban, architectural and cultural fabric of both. As a result of this commitment, we seek to refocus the ‘Australian dream’ towards small footprint housing.
“A green building is simply a better quality building. All too often we get hung up on what is green and what is sustainable, but actually if you think of it as a better quality building, a more efficient building, a better day-lit building, better ventilated, a healthier, nicer place to live, to work or to play. It’s not difficult to make the link between that and a building being worth more to people.”
– Paul King, Chief Executive, Green Building Council UK
How can you accurately measure, compare and define quality in a home? ‘Quality’ has become a generic term, peppered throughout property marketing, along with equally vague terms like ‘European finishes’ and ‘designer kitchens’. Why aren’t we as critical about our homes as we are about our cars? In cars we look for safety, fuel efficiency, reliability, acceleration, serviceability and looks – all measured through ratings and reviews that everyday consumers can access through reputable sources. Surely we should know at least as much, if not more, about the home in which we live? We look forward to the day when we can be as discerning about the liveability benefits of our spaces as the driveability of our cars. To speed up this process, we’d like to start the conversation with our quality objectives below.
Our quality objectives
Here’s what we look for in good small footprint homes, as they apply to apartments or townhouses. While some of these features may be challenging to implement, we’ll work hard and consult with our customers to include as many as is practically and financially possible for every project. It’s in the interests of us all: owners, renters, society and the planet, that we have a clear set of standards to measure and understand the quality of our homes.
High ceilings: a small footprint home should still feel spacious. High ceilings that are a minimum of 2.9 metres tall in living spaces and 2.5 metres tall in bedrooms and bathroom/laundry areas make sure you’ve got lots of room to move
Flexible spaces: to suit the varied pace and needs of modern life, smaller spaces need to be easily adaptable. Less rooms means larger, flexible spaces that are interchangeable – for instance, a study can become a spare bedroom or a second living area
High quality fittings and fixtures: good quality, highly durable fittings and fixtures: light fittings, wardrobes, cupboards, bathroom suites, kitchen units, taps, door handles that all last the distance
Good natural light: natural light is maximised through well-oriented buildings and internal living spaces
Cross flow ventilation: air is kept fresh all year round. Internal spaces feel cool in summer and warmer in winter through smart use of cross flow ventilation
Strong connection between indoor and outdoor spaces: floor to ceiling glazing in living spaces and large openings onto outdoor areas. Spaces feel more open and connected to their environment
Double glazing: double glaze on all windows means spaces are cosier in winter and cooler in summer, minimising heating and cooling costs
Low-energy lighting: LED and compact fluorescent lighting mean less energy consumption and lower energy bills
Exposed thermal mass: exposed masonry walls make use of the sun’s rays, maintaining a more stable temperature indoors
High level of sound separation: good sound insulation acts like noise-cancelling earphones –no more noisy neighbours
Sustainably harvested timber: timber from sustainable sources (for example, Forest Stewardship Council certified timber). We say no to homeless orang-utans!
Low volatile organic compound (VOC) and formaldehyde building materials: VOCs and formaldehyde are allergens and irritants that cause respiratory irritation, nausea and headaches and are the main cause of what is known as ‘sick building’ syndrome. We prefer healthy buildings built from no or low-irritant materials so you can be sure to breathe easy
Washable paint and robust surface materials: designed to withstand the wear and tear from even the most active kids and pets
Activated rooftop: a shared rooftop garden for all residents for veggie patches, a communal yet tranquil space for relaxation
Multi-purpose room: a communal room on the rooftop or in the building for early morning yoga, casual work, kids to play and social gatherings
Multi-purpose workshop: located in the basement or on the ground floor, this multi-use space could be used to groom and wash four-legged friends, general repairs, carpentry or bike maintenance
Bike storage: extensive and secure bike storage for your trusty two-wheelers
Extensive planting: planting throughout shared spaces so you are never far from greenery
Ground floor commercial activation: incorporating a ground floor grocer, bookshop, café, deli, gallery, restaurant, florist, bike shop or kindergarten
Secure and robust circulation: durable hallways and shared circulation spaces resist wear and tear from kids, pets, bikes and prams. Pet and kid-safe gates and locks in shared spaces so little loved ones are kept secure
Solar hot water: gas boosted centralised solar hot water system
Rainwater collection: rainwater is collected and redirected for use in gardens and planter boxes so no precious drops go to waste
Pet friendly features: pet-friendly Owners Corporation rules, taps and drinking bowls in the lobby and hooks to tie up leashes and doggy bag dispensers outside
Community workshop: facilitating workshops during the design and construction phase to support residents in the organisation of shared resources and functions (babysitters, internet, dog walker, cleaner, flexicars, energy use monitoring system, bulk-buying)
Proactive Owners Corporation: encourage residents to take an active role in the Owners Corporation
Community noticeboard: physical and digital noticeboard to communicate events, news, for sale items, Owners Corporation matters, bike rides and social gatherings
At the core of Assemble’s philosophy is honest-to-goodness design. Design that works, design that feels right, design that is kind to the planet, design that is striking and sensitive to its surroundings, design for life. Good design should be accessible, yet only around 5% of new homes in Australia are architecturally designed. We believe that everyone should be able to live in and experience contemporary architecture, not just those with deep pockets. So, good people, let us surround you with the same highly-crafted design sensibility, attention to detail and unfussy style that we ourselves hold dear.
Choice means you choose the size, layout and fit out of your home to best suit your budget and lifestyle. We’ll also involve you in the design process at key stages of the project through a series of workshops to hear your feedback on the design and incorporate it where possible. No cookie cutter apartments here – you get a home that fits you hand in glove.
We believe the way we do business should reflect the same values we strive for in our apartments. So, an important part of our philosophy is to actively contribute to social causes and environmental sustainability. We’ll build skills and knowledge in the wider community by sharing our expertise in architecture, property, creativity and business with like-minded social enterprises and community organisations. We’re currently designing the new retail store for the Social Studio as part of our social responsibility. Stay tuned for updates.