Once residents become more “architecturally aware,” they won’t choose McMansions

An Australian architect says more residents in Perth would avoid McMansions once they become “architecturally aware”:

Designer homes are popping up across Perth as the city becomes more ‘architecturally’ conscious.

Aspects such as strong horizontal lines, cut outs and bold rectangular features are increasingly popular in new residential homes.

As Perth’s architectural style grows up, McMansions will be out and clean, simple modernist designs will be in, according to David Karotkin, the WA President of the Australian Institute of Architects…

“In more recent years there has been an increased awareness of architecture in Perth,” Mr Karotkin said…

“There’s awareness about the importance of the designs and the buildings we live in, work in and play in – it’s all architecture.”

There are several ways such statements might be interpreted:

1. Perth residents are finally becoming knowledgeable about architecture and are rejecting architecturally-deficient McMansions. There is an element of snobbery here: McMansions are for the less knowledgeable while the more educated pick homes designed by architects.

2. Perth is developing its own architectural style. Building styles might be drawn from other cities or countries but a new Perth School might be emerging. Having common design, particularly if it is recognized by outsiders, can become a mark of pride.

3. Architects are looking to increase the number of homes they design. In the United States, most homes are designed by builders and architects have just a small slice of the market. Educating people about the benefits of designed homes means more money.

I wonder what this architect would think if there are still some people who choose McMansions even with higher levels of education.

Australian expert says McMansions should be divided into apartments

An Australian expert tackles the problem of McMansions and affordable housing:

Western suburbs “McMansions” should be converted into apartments to help deal with Perth’s population growth, an expert says.

Leading WA environmental scientist David Kaesehagen said walls or divisions could be built within big properties in the most affluent suburbs to add to housing stock in a rapidly growing market…

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has forecast Perth’s population will grow from 1.8 million to 4.2 million in the next four decades…

Mr Kaesehagen said with the right laws and incentives, owners of large mansions could be persuaded to divide their properties. “This is a way of using existing built form to increase density without introducing high-rise or changing the aesthetic of these established suburbs,” he said.

This is not the first time this has been suggested but I have yet to see a community or significant number of people push for this. I suspect it would be really difficult to do this kind of retrofitting in suburbs often so concerned about property values and density: who would want to be the first resident to have your house subdivided as your neighbors look on and wonder about their housing values? How much would it cost to convert larger homes into multiple units when they were originally intended for single families? This might work best in McMansion neighborhoods that are abandoned or not yet opened (each of these would pose their own set of problems) so there would be no community members in opposition. But, then why not build higher density developments in the first place?