Urbanity ’18 Keynote Nat Woods on Socially Responsible Property Development


Nat Woods plays an integral part in a collection of socially responsible companies who are changing the traditionally selfish narrative around property development, and we’re thrilled to have her speak at Urbanity ’18.

The Sociable Weaver Group, founded by Berry Liberman, Danny Almagor and Dave Martin, was created to initiate positive change in the built environment.

The group's portfolio comprises four businesses, Small Giants Developments (property development), The Sociable Weaver (design and building), Martin Builders (construction), and The Nest Workshop (joinery and cabinetry), with Nat working across all four companies.

With this year's conference less than a month away The Urban Developer sat down with Nat to speak about real estate development, sustainability and how the Small Giants group of companies is leading to positive change.

The Commons Hobart, Pocket Park
The Commons Hobart, Pocket Park

The Sociable Weaver shares its corporate values with parent company Small Giants, Australia’s first BCorp accredited company.

To achieve BCorp status a company must ensure the highest of social and environmental standards, including transparency and legal accountability, which Nat says perfectly aligns with the ethos of sister companies Small Giants Developments and The Sociable Weaver.

“I think there has historically been a culture of mistrust of property developers and that mistrust still exists.

“For us as developers, we really are standing here with our hand on our heart to say that we are trying to create the best possible building for the planet, for people and for community, and we will be held accountable to that.

“I think a lot of this comes down to being open and accessible to our investors and our residents,” she said.

The Sociable Weaver's 10 Star Home
The Sociable Weaver's 10 Star Home is Australia's first carbon-positive home.

The Sociable Weaver's latest project, Australia's first home to achieve a 10-star energy rating, raises the bar for sustainable design and construction.

Boasting a 10 star energy rating, carbon positive accreditation and a zero waste philosophy, the home has an estimated $3 annual cost.

Designed in collaboration with Clare Cousins Architects, the home self-heats and cools (meaning zero utility bills), and produces more clean energy than it needs so you can offset your neighbour’s emissions.

The Sociable Weaver's 10 Star House Interior
The Sociable Weaver's 10 Star House Interior

Sociable Weaver’s sister company Small Giants Development are following suit with its latest extension of the hugely successful Commons affordable housing projects in Hobart.

Trust and accountability play a critical part in the success of The Commons Hobart getting off the ground, with Hobart traditionally being a very tight-knit and development--cautious community.

Nat says it was hugely important for the team to earn the trust of locals given they were coming into Hobart as “outsiders”.

Related: The Alternative Development Model Lands in Hobart: The Commons

The Commons Hobart, rooftop garden and gathering space
The Commons Hobart, rooftop garden and gathering space

To achieve this trust Small Giants activated an extensive community engagement plan, which included opening a display space for free use to the community for events, meetings and exhibitions.

“We introduced ourselves, our project, our intent and vision, and we listened to everyone's opinions, both positive and negative," Nat says.

“We focussed our energies on these events and conversations, rather than just traditional marketing activities, and it paid off because we sold out 70 per cent of homes on the day of sales launch, and then sold out completely within the next few months."

Christmas Dinner hosted by Small Giants for the future residents of The Commons Hobart
Christmas Dinner hosted by Small Giants for the future residents of The Commons Hobart

Where Nat feels Small Giants gained the most success was through creating a development that genuinely inspired its residents to believe in the community they were building, with many of them already starting to connect with future neighbours.

“The fact that our residents are already connecting online with their future neighbours, and catching up for dinners, is a bigger win for us than selling homes quickly—we set out to create a community of people who genuinely want to live near each other and I believe we've done that.”

According to Nat, it all comes back to transparency.

“We're not here to mislead anyone, we're here with a genuine intention to create better cities, and we need to show up and have real conversations with the community to build trust in us and this intention.”

Nat is just one of the 30+ amazing keynotes in store for Urbanity ’18. Learn more about who's speaking, the program, social events and site tours. Secure your ticket here.

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