2019 Melbourne Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

Key Dates

5 March - Launch Event
9 April - Standard Deadline
7 May - Late Deadline
18 June - Judging
2 July - Rating Closes
4 July - Winners Announced
13 August - Awards Presentation

The Assemble Model [DRAFT]

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The Assemble Model is a new pathway to home ownership – bridging the gap between renting & owning your home. It’s our response to the very real challenge of home-ownership, together with the lack of rental stability that many face throughout Australian cities and the inherent housing anxiety that comes with this experience. Home buyers are at the heart of our approach, to deliver projects where good design, community & sustainability go hand in hand. The model allows residents to lease their home for 5 years while they save to buy. Their rent is agreed up-front and their purchase price is also fixed, giving them stability while they save. All while having the freedom to leave the lease or decide not to buy if their circumstances change. Residents are able to live in their home and community before choosing to buy and are supported through a range of opt-in resident services, such as free -of-charge financial coaching, bulk-buying and community-building initiatives. Since launching the model, we have had an overwhelming response and have since received over 3,000 registrations of interest for our pilot project at 393 Macaulay Rd, Kensington. In November, 2018 we ran a ballot process to allocate the available apartments at 393 Macaulay Rd and the project received over 300 applications for the 66 available apartments. It has been fascinating to see how our future residents have embraced an entirely new concept and are now just as excited as we are about what lies ahead.




The sole creator of the project is Assemble (Assemble Communities Pty Ltd).

Project Brief

The Assemble Model is the result of over 3 years of research both locally and overseas. In 2018, we tested the concept with the public and prospective residents through in-person interviews (in collaboration with local design agency - Today) and a survey to seek feedback on what they liked, disliked or wanted more information on. The survey received over 800 responses and resulted in a number of findings that helped influence our approach and offering. There are a number of key features that define the Assemble Model and our early (and continued) engagement process with our residents is fundamental to the success of the approach. We hold community presentations and seek feedback from our residents along the way to help inform the ultimate design outcome and service offering for our residents - and this is key to ensuring what we offer meets their requirements and aspirations. In an effort to further respond to the challenge of housing affordability, we will also be offering 10% of the dwellings within all our projects to key service workers with a 20% discount applied on their rent over the 5-year lease. The eligibility criteria for the key worker allocation will be defined in collaboration with the respective local council within which our projects are located.

Project Innovation/Need

The Assemble Model is the first of its kind in Australia and, according to our research, the world. Our agile team allows us to continue to learn and evolve the Assemble Model as we receive feedback from customers and peers. The model is based on similar 'multi-family' and 'build-to-rent' development models from North America and Western Europe - but responds uniquely to the fundamental desire for the majority of Australians to own their own home. The communal spaces and amenities, that we provide within our projects are also innovative in the Australian context, including things like; communal rooms and workshops for flexible uses and lending libraries (for items only used occasionally e.g. a step ladder) to name a few. Our ultimate goal is for our residents to love where they live and for their experience with Assemble to be one that contributes positively to their overall sense of belonging, security and well-being. The ultimate test of the Assemble Model's impact will occur at the end of the 5-year lease when they decide whether or not they will purchase their home. Ultimately, we want our residents to have the stability and support during their 5-year lease to help place them in the best possible position to achieve their dream of home ownership.

Design Challenge

There have been numerous design challenges along the way, from how the model is communicated to the public, through to the lack of local precedents available to help us develop a service offering that is bespoke and responsive to the Australian context. The Assemble Model responds to these design challenges in a number of ways. The approach has been an iterative one, where we continually look to improve our offer based on the experience of our residents and the feedback they provide along the way. Collaboration with local experts and practitioners with diverse skill-sets has also enabled us to develop our own responses to key challenges, such as identifying the need to undertake a thorough service design process to assist us in developing our resident services (e.g. ensuring our financial coaching service is of value to our residents).

User Experience

The experience the Assemble Model provides for residents is a unique one within the traditional approach to property development. A conventional off-the-plan development approach does not involve any meaningful relationship between the developer and their customers once the dwellings have been settled. The Assemble Model creates a different kind of alignment between Assemble (as the developer) and the resident (as the customer). At the end of the day, if we do not deliver what we said we would, our residents can hand the keys back and walk away - hence we are accountable for our residents' experience being a positive one.

This award celebrates creative and innovative solution design for the successful delivery and provision of services. Consideration given to system integration, user experience, product design
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