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Nightingale Marrickville: Pioneering sustainable, community-focused urban living

Nightingale Marrickville: Pioneering sustainable, community-focused urban living


Nightingale Marrickville represents a pioneering initiative in Sydney’s urban development landscape, brought to fruition through the collaboration of Fresh Hope Communities and Nightingale Housing.

This groundbreaking project introduces a purpose-built build-to-rent model, a first for its collaborators and Sydney. It showcases a future city development blueprint that emphasises community and sustainability through thoughtful and efficient design.

Redefining housing in Sydney

Nightingale Marrickville covers a site area of 766 square metres, and is situated in the lively inner-west suburb of Marrickville. Despite its modest footprint, the project is a standout example of how residential spaces can be innovatively designed to push the boundaries of quality living and aesthetic standards without surrendering functionality or comfort.

Design excellence and environmental sustainability

Sustainability is a cornerstone of the project, integrated into every facet of its architectural and interior design. From the use of Paperock, made from recycled paper for kitchen surfaces and robe vanities, to flooring crafted from raw cocoa husks and natural binders, the materials chosen for this development are as environmentally friendly as they are visually appealing and durable.


The building’s design strategically negates the need for air-conditioning. It incorporates ceiling fans, low windows, and exposed soffits to promote natural airflow. Moreover, the rooftop is equipped with 36 solar panels, producing at least 21kWp of electricity, thereby greatly diminishing the overall carbon footprint of the development and ongoing energy costs for residents.

Nightingale Marrickville
Fostering community and enhancing affordability

Community and affordability are not just buzzwords at Nightingale Marrickville but are deeply ingrained in the ethos and operational framework of the project. A simple ballot process is employed for home allocations, with 50 percent reserved for priority groups such as First Nations Australians, single women over 55, individuals with disabilities and key community contributors. This inclusive approach ensures a diverse mix of residents, fostering a robust community spirit.

The development offers housing at 20 percent below the market rate, achieved through ingenious spatial planning and a design philosophy that minimises waste without compromising on the overall quality and aesthetics of the living spaces.

Nightingale Housing
Communal spaces for collective engagement

Beyond the individual homes, Nightingale Marrickville is designed to cultivate a vibrant community through its shared spaces. The project includes two communal areas on the first level, complete with large kitchens, dining facilities and outdoor terraces. These spaces are central to resident interaction, providing venues for larger gatherings and communal cooking activities.


The design also incorporates communal laundries and drying areas, along with a garden terrace that hosts a communal vegetable garden. These features not only maximise the use of space but also encourage regular interaction among residents, reinforcing community bonds while ensuring privacy.

Nightingale Marrickville
Extending community beyond the building

The community-centric focus extends to the street level, where two commercial spaces integrate the residential community with the broader local area. A community gallery offers space for local artists to exhibit their work and engage in creative exchanges, while a restaurant caters to community events, embedding Nightingale Marrickville into the fabric of Marrickville’s vibrant culture.

Visionary urban living

Designed by Sydney-based firm SJB, the project includes 54 teilhaus apartments — small-footprint, space-efficients homes — for renters. “We can all agree that we’re living in a housing crisis,” SJB director Adam Haddow says.

Nightingale Marrickville

“The potential for quality, intelligent and community-centred design to address it has been under-appreciated for far too long. Nightingale Marrickville is an example of how mid-rise developments can be a potential solution, by providing high density, comfortable, affordable, and beautiful homes for the community.”

Nightingale Marrickville

More than just a place to live, this project is about crafting sustainable, inclusive communities that elevate the standard of urban life.

Photography by Tom Roe.

For more on sustainability, read our profile of Michael Alvisse, IDEA 2024’s sustainability judge.


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