You are a qualified lawyer. Why did you found Living Joy with your partner, Tibor Grubits?
Because we both believe that people and the planet can thrive together. Most property development companies are focused purely on yield and profit, without taking into consideration sustainability, nor how the buildings will impact on the lives of the residents and the communities for years to come. Property developers, most of whom are private companies, are literally shaping the built future of the planet, which is a huge responsibility. In order for us to truly thrive as individuals and communities, we need to do a better job. Consider this: how many hours per day do you spend inside a building?Do you think that that might have an impact on your health and wellbeing? We believed then, and have demonstrated now, that there is a better way.
How is Living Joy a sustainable property development company?
We believe that sustainability should be a core element of each building’s design and use. There is no universal definition of ‘sustainability’, but commonly, it means meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. The most common elements of sustainability in buildings for us are to build less – smaller spaces make people happier, and so does smart design; Optimal orientation, allowing for natural light, passive heating and cooling and urban farming; smart material choices that positively affect our physical and mental health; Permaculture, because growing food and on-site composting make a massive difference; and Location, living in areas with public transport, walkability, employment and services.
What are your services?
We work with venture capitalists, institutional investors and ethical super funds, where we deliver excellent returns with a conscience; land-owners who are looking to sell a property with development potential; property investors who are looking for an above-average investment; people who are interested in learning about wellness and sustainability.
What is a recent Hunter project you have done?
A triplex located in Fairfield Avenue, New Lambton. Each 3-bedroom townhouse feels spacious, with a focus on indoor-outdoor connection and natural light. We have large glass sliding doors opening at level onto a timber deck, with watertanks tucked out of sight beneath. We have clever, integrated storage, and two-storey windows in the stairwells, plus two rows of windows in the bedrooms upstairs to give a sense of spaciousness. We’ve built largely with timber and sustainable materials, and retained the existing trees at the front.
What is the most challenging aspect of your business?
Helping people to change their mindset, which is often subconscious, that a sustainable property means somehow ‘missing out’, or that it will ‘cost more’. We’ve done the research and we have the proof: sustainable housing is both a smart financial and lifestyle choice.
Our houses can make people healthier just by living in them, and living in a house that makes you feel good because you know that you’re doing good in the world has many benefits.
And most rewarding?
The moment when people realise that urban, sustainable lifestyles are within reach.
Why the focus on wellness?
Wellness is the active choice to live a better and more fulfilling life. Wellness isn’t about surviving; it’s about thriving.
To give an example of how this plays out in society, when we have a health problem, we go to a doctor, who treats our symptoms, and gets us back to zero.
Traditionally, property developers have operated along the same lines. They look at the bare minimum: four walls and roof, with the basics. Wellness, however, is about zero to amazing. It’s about cultivating meaning, strong social relationships, engagement, positive emotions and accomplishments. It isn’t ‘happiology’; it is about realistic, achievable thriving. A sustainable wellness house doesn’t look at the bare minimum. It considers how to do things better.
Living in a house that makes you feel good because you know that you’re doing good in the world has many benefits.Alice Joy
Why did you open The Junction cafe Pickled and Pressed?
To show how plant-based food is sustainable, nourishing and delicious; to showcase a business operating sustainably; and to create a community hub with the space for people and their friends, families and dogs to connect. Shared community spaces are crucial in happy communities, which is something that we see working really well in denser cities across the globe.
Where do you see Living Joy in five or 10 years?
We love Newcastle, and we want to create amazing, sustainable buildings and communities here that people love to live in. There is always more to learn and try, and as our developments scale up, we will be able to do more and more. We’re keen to do more with microgeneration of electricity on-site, permaculture and eco-technology, not just in townhouses, but in apartments as well. We’re also going to be working more in the educational space about wellness, sustainability and ethical investing.