Post 10: Reframing my Stance

A Pivotal Refinement

When discussing my draft proposition with my colleague, they pointed out that I didn’t have a focused problem statement. Whilst I had identified that I wanted to talk about Generation Y’s perceived inability to attain the Great Australian Dream of home ownership, this was still quite a broad intent. The impact, function and usefulness of my proposed design was not yet clearly articulated.

My colleague encouraged me to vocalise the parts of my research that had really stood out to me. This forced me to synthesise my research, interests and opinions, in the hopes that I might identify a more specific direction for my proposition. I found myself continually talking about how I was frustrated and angered that the ideals of the Great Australian Dream and the quintessential Australian lifestyle I had been brought up with, would be lost as a result of Sydney’s current housing affordability crisis. This was a pivotal exercise as it consolidated where I position myself on the issue. I realised that I firmly oppose major shifts away from the notion of the Great Australian Dream. For example, I do not support the rapid increase of high density living in Sydney’s suburban areas.

This urged me to reframe my proposition. Rather than talking generally about Generation Y’s experiences with attaining the Great Australian Dream, I decided to adopt a slightly more assertive and perhaps aggressive stance on the issue. I realised that the ideals that fuel the Great Australian Dream are something that I want to protect, preserve and celebrate. I want to encourage others who share similar sentiments, in particular members of Generation Y, to also voice their opinions because without conversation our Great Australian Dreams will surely dwindle.

#SaveTheBurbs—a generative design proposition.

The Issue:

‘…we’re not enabling our children to grow up in the areas we grew up in,” (Murphy 2016).

Increasing house prices has led to dwindling hopes for Generation Y Sydney-siders to achieve the Great Australian Dream of home ownership. The dream of owning a detached house on quarter-acre block—with a garden, hills hoist and barbecue, is not about greed or materialism. Home ownership is associated with freedom, family, hospitality and prosperity. The fear of Generation Y’s lack thereof, has the potential to heighten their financial and emotional insecurities. A lack of affordable housing in Sydney’s suburbs, means Generation Y, may have to move further afield to buy their first home or they may have to ditch the Great Australian Dream altogether and live in an alternate dwelling-type.

As Sydney moves towards solutions for it’s housing crisis, it seems that there is a push for more high density housing developments in it’s suburbs, such as apartment blocks or townhouses. This threatens to drastically change Australia’s quintessential suburban lifestyle. For example, high density living has seen Australians trading in backyards for balconies. In attempting to create cheaper, one-size-fits-all housing solutions, important facets of Australia’s national identity are at risk of being forgotten.

The Possible Change:

I want to remind Sydney-siders, in particular those living in the suburbs, of the values associated with the Great Australian Dream—values such as privacy, freedom, recreation, nurture, hospitality, safety, pride and comfort. Doing so highlights the need for these values to be upheld throughout future urban planning. I want to adopt a nostalgic approach to protest against sacrificing the Great Australian Dream in order to solve the housing crisis.

Design Action to Support Change:

Part 1: #SaveTheBurbs Archive

I want to invite suburban Sydney-siders who have experienced living the Great Australian Dream to share a photograph and caption that depicts what they cherish most about the home they grew up in and/or currently live in.

The design will operate on a website platform where users can upload their photographs, add a caption and fill out some basic information about the photographs history. The entries then contribute to a growing archive of anecdotes and images celebrating the values of the Great Australian Dream. The design is thus a generative storytelling archive. Users will be able to filter the archives by suburb, year and specific features and/or rooms. Users will also be able to share entries via social media, with #SaveTheBurbs and a link encouraging others to also get involved. The archive serves to preserve and stand as a testament to the significance of the Great Australian Dream. It also seeks to commemorate and document the dream, particularly in case it does disappear.

Part 2: #SaveTheBurbs Media Kit

Using the data generated by the archive, I intend to create social media content that will enlighten and motivate others to preserve the ideals behind the dream in order to keep it alive. I want to prompt more consideration of the impacts of high-rise residential developments in Sydney’s suburbs on the existing local communities. I also seek to create a publication that can be presented to local councils and the NSW Government that emphasises the importance of improving housing affordability to increase Generation Y’s ability to attain the Great Australian Dream. For example, I want to encourage them to improve policies concerning first home buyers to support young Australians buy their first home. There is also the potential to explore how the ideals behind the Great Australian Dream could be brought into the shifting housing landscape.

Murphy, D. 2016, ‘Crisis point for affordable housing’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13-14 August, p. 12.