The shared (room) house: A social and material assemblage

Ms Zahra Nasreen1

1Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


Shared housing has emerged as a popular form of housing, especially for younger generations. Shared housing is a private rental housing form which allows many tenants to live in locations which would otherwise be unaffordable. Yet, living in shared housing can be difficult. Residents are required to live with non-related members who collectively are required to negotiate and arrange the social, economic and material aspects of their daily lives. Here the physical/material configuration of shared housing plays a significant role in influencing resident’s feelings of home.  Despite the growth of shared room housing, little is known about how shared housing is created, experienced and maintained. This paper mobilises assemblage thinking to explore the ways that spaces such as bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen are assembled and experienced. Assemblage thinking offers critical (re)understanding of the relational and multiplex spatial, material and social alignments, and labours involved in the process of making home. Drawing on fieldwork which explored shared room housing (an extreme form of shared housing where resident share bedrooms) experiences in Sydney, this paper explores how social and material elements define daily routines and experiences of home.


Zahra Nasreen is a PhD research scholar at the Department of Geography and Planning at Macquarie University. She is an urban planner having diverse experience in affordable housing schemes, land use planning, database mapping and solid waste management services. Studying conflicts of planning policies and practices with local community’s needs has always been her aspiration. Her PhD research explores the shared housing characteristics, in particular room sharing, its geographical and affordability impacts, and tenants’ experiences of shared room housing in Sydney.

From backyards to balconies: Exploring parents’ experiences of home and belonging in apartments

Ms Sophie-may Kerr1

1University Of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia


As Australian cities rapidly densify, more Australians are housed in higher density environments. This shift towards apartment-living represents a major transition in Australian cultural housing norms and requires new material and emotional negotiations. This is particularly so for families with children who are increasingly occupying high density spaces – whether out of preference, convenience or constraint. While more families with children now live in apartments, dominant discourses continue to frame detached housing as the appropriate place to raise a family. Apartments are viewed as a transitional housing form that is ‘unhomely’ and unsuitable for children. Little is known about how these cultural norms influence parents’ experiences of home and sense of belonging in apartments. This paper responds to this gap by drawing on semi-structured interviews with 18 families living in apartments. A focus on the emotional terrain of parenting reveals that their feelings of belonging and home are fraught and contested. The findings capture the uncertainty families feel about their housing futures, highlighting tensions between cultural norms, that are frequently internalised, and shifting urban landscapes. The interviewees’ experiences signal a need to rethink public discourses and apartment design in ways that recognise that diversity of those who call apartments home.


Sophie-May is a PhD candidate in the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities at the University of Wollongong. Her research explores the lived experiences, practices and emotions of families living in apartments.

Coliving Housing: Emerging Meanings and Cultures of Home for the Creative Class

Miss Tegan Bergan1, Professor Andrew Gorman-Murray1, Doctor Emma Power1

1Western Sydney University, Parramatta, Australia


Coliving is an emerging housing typology developed in response to the perceived housing requirements of the creative class. We examine how the proliferation of coliving signifies shifting meanings and cultures of home. We draw upon a content analysis of twenty websites of coliving organisations websites located in New York City and San Francisco, United States of America. Uncovering that meanings of home are associated with coliving spaces’ ability to enable economic participation. Home becomes a technology for this economy – a site of active production of creative economy capital. Coliving challenges notions of the ideal home being private, a reprieve from work or long-term and secure. Changes to the meanings of home are supported by emerging cultures of home. Cultures of home are domestic services or practices. Coliving organisations offer cultures of home that facilitate mobility, provide business amenity services and encourage the creation of social networks. In responding to creative economies conditions of precarity and hypermobility, home for this cohort must be: mobile, a place to work and a social hub. This discussion contributes to understandings of how housing is a conduit for participation in economic and social worlds that concomitantly influences meanings and cultures of home.


Tegan Bergan is a PhD candidate at Western Sydney University. Tegan’s research is exploring an emerging housing typology – coliving. Coliving is a housing market response to the increasing precarity and hypermobility of knowledge economy workers, particularly those working in creative and tech-based industries. Her research positions housing as more than an afterthought of economies. Housing and economies are not spatially bounded, separate wholes: rather they are inexorably linked sites that enable and condition the other.

Tegan Bergan

B. Social Sciences (Hons I)

1979 Battery Point Planning Scheme: creating dense, diverse and desirable Australian housing through built heritage conservation

Dr Alysia Bennett1

1Department Of Architecture, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia


Hobart’s Battery Point, adjacent to the amenity-rich CBD, is a unique residential suburb that is aesthetically desirable while having a significantly higher housing density than other Tasmanian suburbs. As such, it provides a useful case study for understanding points of convergence in the Hobart housing market, the actions of developers and the government’s strategic urban consolidation agendas. In order to investigate the alignment between development, densification and the desirability of Battery Point’s housing, the 1979 Battery Point Planning Scheme, a selection of houses modified between 1920 and 2015, and maps of dwelling distribution across the suburb, were analysed using design-research based methods. The study found that the unique approach to conservation embedded in the contextually specific planning scheme facilitated the retention of the distinct character of the suburb and diversity of the built fabric which has allowed the suburb to resiliently meet the shifting functional needs and aspirations of its community over time. Consequently, Battery Point demonstrates that through careful integration with development systems and alignment with economic forces, a focus on the retention of heritage fabric can aid the facilitation of socially, environmentally and culturally sustainable housing development for regional and low-density Australian cities.


Dr Alysia Bennett is a lecturer and architectural researcher at Monash University. Her research concentrates on overcoming barriers to the densification and diversification of suburban housing to improve the affordability of housing stock, primarily in regional and suburban contexts.

Sustainable Heritage and ‘Shop-Top living’: Case Studies

Ms Katrina Hill1

1University Of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia


A great city is vibrant and dynamic because of the people who live in it. For the city of Launceston (Tasmania) a restorative tonic can be found in a return to living ‘above the shop’ lost due to societal change and successive urban planning strategies designed to improve public health and safety outcomes. It is these spaces which have become neglected and are starting to decay through a lack of use or care. A recent project utilized case study analysis to better understand the complexity of ‘shop top living’. This included the internalities and externalities within the city have which has affected shops, shopping and living in the inner-city zone. The cases provided insight into stakeholder objectives and priorities. They also showed that giving value and purpose (for use) of these spaces increases the likely hood that they can be adapted; that they are sustainable. This study also highlights the less than desirable outcomes and experiences. In conclusion, the cases show that gathering data is not going to give you a full picture. It is necessary to listen to the stories of those living, or making it possible to live, ‘above the shop’ is important for fostering sustainable heritage.


PhD Candidate, University of Tasmania (Geography & Spatial Sciences, Planning).

Planning the revitalization of a City: the Launceston City Deal (and the University relocation to inner city spaces). Interested in adaptive reuse, shop-top living, and the complexity of heritage (built and cultural) in city based place making.

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