Perth-based vittinoAshe architects won the state's top award for small project architecture for showing how existing housing stock can be repurposed to meet the country's growing need for accommodation suitable for an ageing population.
With the ABS predicting the number of people over 85 to more than double from 420,300 in 2012 to 842,500 by 2031, reusing existing homes will be one of the most cost-effective ways of allowing people to keep living independently within familiar communities.
In the case of the unit in East Perth's Causeway Gardens complex, the architects redesigned a 45-square-metre apartment with a central cupboard unit that provided storage, enclosed the laundry facilities and also provided a handrail to navigate between kitchen-dining space and bedroom.
It was a very successful transformation of an old unit, which last sold for $290,000 in July 2014, in the 1940s building, said WA awards jury chairman Brian Wright.
"They are certainly showing their age and yet the architect was able to convert this thing, with some very clever design, into a very lovely little single-bedroom unit," Mr Wright said.
The ability of older people to choose where they want to live will be crucial to ensuring the healthier ageing of Australia's population, the Productivity Commission said in a 2011 report Caring for Older Australians.
The aged care system should focus on promoting the independence and wellness of older Australians and their continuing contribution to society, the commission said.
The apartment redesign that permitted the elderly resident of this Adelaide Terrace unit to stay in the middle of the city did just that, Mr Wright said.
"It certainly is a model of how you can take old stock," he said. "There are hundreds of units within this block that potentially could be redone the same way this unit was to provide housing for the elderly, certainly. It was a great little job."
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