Steve Mann

Steve Mann
Chief Executive Officer
Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW

What does an ideal home look and feel like to you?
For me, the ideal home is one that fits the whole family.

My, now adult, children are always coming and going but we enjoy having everyone still under the same roof. Like most families, we go through cycles of expanding and contracting and I believe that more homes in the future will be geared towards flexibly, accommodating the needs of the next generation and the demographic trends towards intergenerational living.

UDIA NSW has been advocating for greater housing diversity, particularly in our regional cities. The diversity of housing means we can create more affordable options for the next generation, which is a deep challenge along with the escalating costs of living.

What are you looking for in the winning design?
UDIA’s strategy for urban planning is to create liveable, affordable and connected cities. One thing I’ll be looking for in this competition is creative ways to accommodate the values within the design of the new homes. How can we feel a sense of community, what makes a home liveable, and what are the right trade-offs to make a home affordable? At first look the ‘connected’ value is all about location to transport and services, but what about the smart connections and integration enabled by technology?

The design should respect the fundamentals of good design but also push the envelope in terms of contemporary style, respond to and grow the local character of the neighbourhood and incorporate the latest in sustainable design.

What is your favourite thing to do in Lake Macquarie?
Lake Macquarie has absolutely spectacular fishing spots and I love to wet a line, particularly beach fishing.

Share a career highlight with us
In 2009, I was CEO of the largest ASX-listed retirement living company. The redevelopment of retirement villages remains a key challenge for our cities to see higher yields while maintaining a high quality of life for residents. In my tenure, I achieved the last Part 4 State Significant Development Approval in NSW, for a 10-year project to redevelop the Cardinal Freemen Retirement Village in Ashfield, which was a complex project with existing residents, Aged Care and heritage considerations.

As CEO of UDIA NSW I have overseen the launch of our first Diversity and Inclusion program and have also presented at events for other organisations to promote this positive change for our industry.

What are some of the most exciting things coming out of home design and building industry that excites you?
The integration of consumer technology into the home into what has been termed ‘smart houses’.

There has been a real revolution in the property industry to bring tech to the forefront of design thinking, not only for homeowners to use, but all the way back to the city planning and rezoning stages of a home. The insights and data which we glean from technology is so powerful… and we’ve only just begun to realise what we can do with technology.

What does wellbeing mean to you? How do you find balance in your life?
Wellbeing means having a strong and positive mental outlook and contentment with the present moment. For me, being outdoors and working with my own hands, connecting with those important people in my life and grounding myself through the community around me all lead to wellness.