Client: ACT Government Community Services Directorate and Getting A Life (GALS)
Date: Completed 2013
Recently opened by the Governor General Quentin Bryce, and featured in her final televised annual Christmas address to the nation in 2013, Benambra is a unique social housing development made possible by the NDIS – the first so called intentional community to be designed and constructed in Australia. The brainchild of 3 highly committed and loving mothers who call themselves the GAL’s (Getting a Life) this 25 townhouse development incudes three purpose-designed dwellings for three severely disabled young men- their sons. The project is the culmination of dogged determination, significant lobbying and great patience for close to a decade. In effect the three young men and their carers are the first and indeed head tenants of Benambra, who have a say in which other residents might live in this innovative community. Although the development achieves quite a high density over the 7,212m² site, the masterplan concept incorporates an attractive common / play area near a magnificent remnant Eucalypt and an integrated pedestrian network through carefully considered dwelling siting. All dwellings benefit from excellent northern solar access with attractive private courtyards. Benambra incorporates 4 main dwellings types each designed for specific residents needs and each therefore having quite different layouts. Nevertheless the development feels cohesive with a warm palette of materials, consistent roof lines and a distinctive entry portico detail common to all dwellings. The convenient location in Phillip is central to the three young men and their families and convenient for all other residents given its close proximity to Woden Town Centre and public transport. It is anticipated that this might be the first of many similar communities across Australia underpinned by the National Disability Insurance Scheme.