Design guidelines for social housing

Under the Queensland Housing Strategy 2017–2027, we aim to deliver more social and affordable housing for Queensland.

The strategy redefines how we'll deliver housing to:

  • support urban renewal
  • generate new jobs
  • provide affordable housing
  • drive innovative housing design that meets contemporary housing needs.

The design guidance resources provided below ensure that new social housing dwellings:

  • are designed thoughtfully
  • meet service delivery requirements
  • minimise ongoing maintenance
  • contribute to diverse and sustainable communities.

Social housing design guideline

The Social housing design guideline (PDF, 7.8MB) describes the quality of design that we aim to achieve when delivering social housing to meet Queenslanders' needs.

The guideline outlines '10 essential ingredients' of good design that contribute to:

  • great communities
  • safety
  • housing affordability
  • resilient and efficient homes
  • accessible homes
  • practical and comfortable homes
  • a healthy lifestyle.

It also provides a framework for decision making during the design, development, and delivery of new housing projects.

This guideline builds on the principles of QDesign, a manual developed by the Office of the Queensland Government Architect, which outlines principles for good urban design in Queensland.

The guideline not only supports better housing outcomes for social housing tenants, but can inspire good housing design across all Queensland communities.

Read the Design and construction standards for remote housing (PDF, 1.2MB) to learn more about our approach to delivering social and affordable housing.

Technical summary sheets – social housing dwellings

Our technical summary sheets – March 2024 (PDF, 1.5MB) outline the practical requirements for achieving best practice design principles in social housing dwellings.

They explain important site, space and amenity requirements for projects, which vary depending on project and dwelling type, and accessibility level.

You can also access the technical summary sheets June 2022 (PDF, 1.3MB).

Indicative floor plans – social housing dwellings

Our indicative floor plans (PDF, 2.2MB) show how to achieve the department's target floor areas, which vary by accessibility level and number of bedrooms.

Drawings – social housing projects

Not all social housing projects are the same. Design guidelines and summary sheets are applied to the unique qualities of sites and needs of customers (in collaboration with the department).

Below is a list of recent social housing projects. Each project has a link to drawings that show how the guidelines and summary sheets have been applied to the project.

The ideas and lessons we learn from our projects inform our design guidance resources.

Note: These are design drawings only. The information is subject to design development and input from technical contractors. These drawings are not a complete or final set.

These 7 compact, 1- and 2-bedroom homes are organised in a village-like group around a central, communal courtyard. All units overlook the courtyard, providing amenity and a sense of safety for residents.

See drawings for garden villas, Gold Coast (PDF, 3.5MB).

Three distinct buildings are located around a central, communal courtyard, above resident parking.

The building steps up in height from the street – from a neighbourly 2 storeys at the street up to 5 storeys at the rear. Many of these 20 x 1-bedroom apartments are north facing, with the stepped height allowing sun into the homes and courtyard.

Breezeways allow air in and around each home.

See drawings for compact apartments, Gold Coast (PDF, 2.8MB).

This award-winning project provides accommodation—as well as care, support and a stable environment—for young people at risk of homelessness.

Both the low-scale, domestic form of the building and the choice of materials ensure that the project fits in well with the streetscape, while providing privacy and amenity for its young residents.

See drawings for supported youth accommodation, Fraser Coast (PDF, 3.8MB).

These 20 apartments over 5 storeys are all accessible for people with varying mobility levels.

The building is located in the Ipswich CBD's Primary Commercial Zone and includes an awning at street level. A community organisation occupies office space on the ground level and supports some of the building residents.

See drawings for CBD apartments, Ipswich (PDF, 11.3MB).

This development is easy to move around in. Resident parking is centralised and located at one end of the site, leaving the site centre as a green pedestrian laneway.

This internal laneway allows breezes to flow freely through the development – maximising passive cooling while encouraging incidental social interaction among neighbours.

See drawings for green laneway homes, Brisbane (PDF, 3.5MB).

This project is mix of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments over 3 storeys.

A pinwheel arrangement around a central courtyard provides passive ventilation, and the building sits comfortably within the surrounding street.

See drawings for interurban diversity, Brisbane (PDF, 2.7MB).

These 27 homes make the most of the site's north-facing aspect.

Residents access their homes via external, covered walkways from the south. The car park is behind the building, and part of the driveway connects the communal garden to the development's central green corridor.

See drawings for affordable homes, Moreton Bay (PDF, 1.8MB).

This project provides 2- and 4-bedroom homes that are designed for the hot, dry tropics of Townsville.

A large, landscaped space sits at the heart of the development, and the home designs capture south-east and north-east sea breezes.

See drawings for homes for the dry tropics, Townsville (PDF, 3.6MB).

This 2-storey development is arranged around garden spaces and organised to allow for north–south orientation and good ventilation into all homes.

The design fosters a sense of community and creates opportunities for casual interaction between residents.

See drawings for townhouse-style apartments, Logan (PDF, 17MB).

This project replaces a long-established crisis housing and support service on the site.

It includes 33 social housing dwellings and an ancillary hub space that will provide services and support to residents. The master plan includes the demolition of an existing hostel and a new internal road reserve that connects the development to existing social housing dwellings.

See drawings for master-planned, supported housing, Brisbane (PDF, 52.5MB).

This project provides a unique approach to a difficult site that has a 3-street frontage. It involves constructing 9 x 1-bedroom units configured as 2 buildings.

This project focuses on making homes safe, with a design that residents to have a sense of control over their own environment.

See drawings for safe homes, Logan (PDF, 3.8MB).

This mix of dwelling types includes:

  • dwelling houses
  • 2- and 3-storey, low-rise, multiple dwellings
  • and
  • dual occupancy.

This mix of dwelling styles includes 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units spread across a 2-storey building and a 2-to-3 storey building.

This mix provides housing diversity and a sensitive transition:

  • to adjoining sites that contain dwelling houses
  • between busier roads or centres and lower density residential areas.

See drawings for diverse dwelling mix, Brisbane (PDF, 44MB).

This 3-storey development comprises 25 x 1- and 2-bedroom apartments.

The development meets diverse community needs by providing housing choices for different lifestyle choices and life stages.

See drawings for multiple dwellings, Moreton Bay (PDF, 10.2MB).

This project combines high-quality architectural and urban design with good visual amenity.

This project provides for interest and activity on both street frontages, with individual entrances from private open spaces. Entrances are well defined, with excellent wayfinding, passive surveillance and safety.

The development consists of 10 x 1- and 2-bedroom apartments configured as a 2-storey building on a corner site.

See drawings for corner site, Gold Coast (PDF, 3.3MB).

This project achieves the council-required street activation through the entry arrangement and way that the building addresses the corner.

The project is configured as a 3-storey building with an exemplar design that provides a north-eastern orientation for all homes.

See drawings for small corner, Ipswich (PDF, 4MB).

This project delivers 7 smaller 1.5- and 2-bedroom apartments and focuses on creating healthy homes. The design encourages residents to stay active and improve their wellbeing by offering a sanctuary and place to relax and recharge.

The length of the site is oriented towards the north and designed to maximise natural sunlight while maintaining privacy for neighbours.

See drawings for healthy homes, Caboolture (PDF, 3.3MB).

This development of 14 x 1-bedroom, walk-up apartments includes deep planting and a communal garden space.

It has a low-scale appearance that fits in well with the neighbourhood.

See drawings for green garden units, Toowoomba (PDF, 32MB).