Housing crisis

The ‘lightweight’ idea that could help solve the housing crisis

A Sunshine Coast architectural firm has designed unique homes that could help solve the area’s housing crisis.

Local architects Habitance launched three ‘energy positive’ home designs at the Off Grid Expo in Goomeri, in response to housing shortages, rising energy bills and the need for sustainability.

Called LiteHouse, the concept combines smart design, sustainable Australian-made materials, and passive heating and cooling. They must be built by selected local eco-builders to ensure a light impact on nature.

“Energy Positive Architecture” is the tagline of the 20-month-old company launched by husband-and-wife team Alex and Ali Hoffmann during the pandemic.

Whether they’re designing a home, a community hall, a train station or a stadium, they’re committed to delivering buildings that produce more energy than they need.

The original Litehouse design.

The company’s goal for the LiteHouses aligns with the Sunshine Coast Regional Council’s ‘Housing for the Future’ and ‘Sustainable Design’ strategies.

Alex, an architect with 30 years of experience in London and Brisbane, explained the light bulb moment behind the LiteHouse.

“I originally wanted to offer a positive energy home design, as a sustainable option for people buying into developments such as Aura,” he said.

“Because the basic construction of the LiteHouse takes a week, it has less environmental impact on site and therefore ongoing energy savings for those who live there.”

Feedback during design development was so positive that Alex designed three LiteHouses of different sizes to market to environmentally conscious homebuyers, all with positive energy characteristics and the ability to be 100% off-grid.

Ali and Alex Hoffmann at the Off Grid exhibition.

The LiteHouse Duo, designed for one or two people, was particularly suitable for second homes and could be part of the solution to current housing challenges, especially since the design and materials allowed them to be built quickly.

Building multiple Duos together could be a practical option for retirement and community living, especially in semi-rural areas.

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Alex said providing a diverse range of housing was necessary to increase access to quality living and he hosted a meeting with industry leaders to discuss this issue in October.

“We desperately need affordable, sustainable housing now, to retain key and essential workers in the region, he said.

“Thus, zoning and controls must support sustainable positive energy secondary housing to be offered for long-term rental.”

He said LiteHouse has demonstrated that positive steps can be taken to alleviate the housing crisis, benefiting tenants financially and enabling the area to house the growing community for years to come.