Authentic, values-driven property brand and project stories are paramount to any communications campaign’s success. And a vital part of this story – but one that is too often forgotten – is the very thing that brings life to buildings, and buildings to life: people.

This month, we’ve seen Australia’s property media turn their attention to the rise of ethical, community-focused development and projects that serve to bring people together and foster the creation of communities, including Communications Collective clients such as Assemble, Small Giants Development’s project, The Commons Hobart, and Lucent Capital’s Little Miller development in Brunswick East, to name but a few.

We are witnessing a shift in the way people are purchasing property and a greater demand in the marketplace for properties that seek to engage communities, help create new ones, and bring people together in authentic, tangible ways.

As Australia’s population grows, developers, architects and planners need to think evermore strategically to effectively accommodate the densification of its cities – and doing so in a way that fosters the creation of communities in new dwellings, in both the inner city and green field suburbs. These developments are resonating more strongly than ever with purchasers.

Across the country, we are seeing this trend take off, through our work with our collaborators, clients and the media, where community engagement has been a key focus of several recent campaigns that we have led.

Just one of the many exemplar campaigns that Communications Collective has recently completed was for Small Giants Developments and its latest project, The Commons Hobart, which is set to become Australia’s first carbon positive residential project.

Small Giants co-founder and creative director Berry Liberman says: “People want more than four walls and a property title – they want to be part of a community, they want connectedness and accessibility, they want sustainability to be embedded throughout their homes and their community.

“Our intention is to use the built environment to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.”

Selling 20 of the 30 dwellings on the day of the sales launch, The Commons in Hobart was incredibly well received by the local Hobart community and purchasers alike, who want to live among like-minded individuals, who share an affinity for community-focused, well-designed, environmentally sustainable homes.

In its recently published book The Place Economy, Australian based Place VisioningTM, property branding and marketing firm Hoyne examined real world social and economic benefits of effective placemaking globally, that links better placemaking with higher profits, finding that people will pay more per square metre for properties that foster a sense of community.

“Development in Australia is occurring at a rapid rate. Competition is fierce and point-of-difference is mandatory now. Investors are canny. Even those who will not live in the property they purchase will still need tenants,” says Hoyne principal Andrew Hoyne. “Tenants and owner-occupiers alike are attracted to distinct, vibrant communities. Projects really need to be adding to the fabric of the community where they’re located.”

Another recent project of Communications Collective’s was the highly successful campaign for 122 Roseneath Street, a joint venture development between Assemble, ICON Developments and Wulff Projects – the launch of which gained the support of the Clifton Hill community from the project’s inception.

122 Roseneath Street’s extensive community consultation among both neighbours and potential buyers involved a traditional media campaign alongside site activations, and comprehensive design presentations and surveys, which led to early buy-in from purchasers.

Selling 83 per cent of sales in the first month and 97 per cent to owner occupiers, the development is a leading example of how new additions to the built environment can successfully make positive contributions to the community, and seed new ones.

“The runaway success of 122 Roseneath Street points to the future of effective development and design that not only makes a positive social impact, but is also commercially successful.” says Communications Collective director Genevieve Brannigan.

“The primary beneficiaries of effective placemaking are, of course, people, and 122 Roseneath Street’s project partners listened to the needs to the people at the centre of the project to seamlessly integrate it with the social and architectural fabric of the Clifton Hill area.”

This shift is emblematic of the larger changes at play in society at large where people are placing a greater importance on community.

“The technology-driven sharing economy has given rise to an economic and social revolution that is transforming the way we live, work and play,” says Brannigan.

“From hot-desking, to the number of car spaces in a building, to the approach to apartment interiors – the sharing economy has reshaped and in some ways created a new sense of community in new urban environs.

“Good developers are starting to attribute value in creating buildings that prioritise quality design and consider community. These design-led, high quality projects will help drive acceptance for density by Australian consumers, and ultimately create functional, thriving typologies that people will genuinely enjoy living in.

“In Australia and abroad, as people increasingly value a sense of community and place when choosing a property, developers and designers alike would do well to pay closer attention to this movement in the market – and ensure this story is conveyed in the project’s marketing and communications strategies.”

While we are seeing a range of leading examples of community engagement in property development in Melbourne, as with 122 Roseneath Street, this trend is international. It is after all people – those who purchase and inhabit these homes – that make a place a desirable, functional and enjoyable area in which to live.

“I don’t think this is a Melbourne-centric thing, I think this is a human thing,” says Hoyne. “Feeling connected is one of our innate needs as a species. Research is showing that, despite the world becoming more digitised and technologically advanced, our craving for personal contact does not abate, in some cases it increases.

“All that aside, I think there is a commercial reality to this shift as well. Developers are realising that projects with deeper, more genuine and considered community roots and people connections, simply do better. They sell faster, for higher prices, and they create a pipeline of customers for the developer’s future projects. They create a legacy that all Australians want to buy into given the chance.”

Buying a home is, for many, the biggest purchase they will make in their lifetime, and there are a great many and varied features that people look for when selecting their perfect home. It seems one of the common threads that has emerged, however, is the extent to which new developments consider not only design quality, location, amenity and price – but quite simply, how it connects people.

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