Gaia Architects

affordable healthy social housing

Tollhouse Gardens, Fairfield, Perth

Client: Fairfield Housing Co-operativee

Gaia were commissioned by Fairfield Housing Co-operative to design a low-allergen housing development for the most prominent, site in Fairfield. The project was designed and constructed within social housing grant benchmarks.

The development comprises 14 1- & 2-bed units arranged around a car-free courtyard. Parking is restricted to the entrance of the development with access via footpaths off the communal courtyard.


The building fabric was designed as a moisture transfusive construction and materials with hygroscopic properties were used to aid moisture management and help maintain relative humidity levels which restrict moulds and mite survival rates. Only benign materials were specified and materials containing known allergens or triggers (e.g. Formaldehyde) were avoided. Three different ventilation strategies (mechanical, dynamic and natural) were specified to allow for evaluation of their effectiveness at allergen reduction.


An economic analysis looked at the implications for widespread implementation of healthy housing on savings in treatments costs and drugs. It concluded that the project fully integrated and demonstrated the inter-related benefits of the three aspects of sustainability policy – social, environmental and economic.


Gaia were involved in pre-construction and post occupancy research through a project funded by the ODPM into Low Allergy Housing and carried out tests into allergen and relative humidity levels at the properties. This research was a precursor to the SEDA Guide 'Design and Detailing for Toxic Chemical Reduction in Buildings' co-authored by Gaia.


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