Top of the pops, as you might well expect in the year of Covid, was a piece on how to beat this curse that caught the majority of readers’ attention. It was these extensive advisory notes from A.G. Coombs’ Matthew Peacock and clearly they must have been helpful because the hits on them went through the roof.
The Fifth Estate was honoured (and a bit bemused) to receive a letter from former PM Kevin Rudd after publishing a piece that compared Rudd’s GFC economic stimulus response to PM Scott Morrison’s Covid response. While the piece defended the infamous pink batts scheme, Rudd took the opportunity to set straight the offhand commentary about the rest of his stimulus measures, such as how so many people indulged in wide screen television sets with the proceeds. Not quite so, there was much more useful investment going on, Rudd said.
As with the top story for 2020, early in the pandemic The Fifth Estate set out to investigate how Covid risk can be managed in densely populated buildings .
The first chapter of 2020 also included a bushfire season like no other, so it was no surprise that people were curious about this home that withstood the fires basically unharmed.
Strategic planner Tim Sneesby became a more-or-less regular contributor to The Fifth Estate in 2020, providing rare insights into how planning really works inside the cabalistic property and planning world. Well worth the read, especially on the perennially intriguing claims made about supply and price.
Cameron Murray also had something to say about the enduring narrative that Australian housing supply is constrained by planning regulations. He nailed it with some serious evidence to back up his claim.
Early in 2020, The Fifth Estate explored the potential of bamboo: an incredible material that can be harvested in four years, is carbon-sequestering, resilient and perfect for increasingly tropical environments.
Australia has seen a number of prefab companies fail so it was no wonder this story about Hickory Group, somewhat of a prefab success story, attracted a lot of attention.
Hot on the heels of the fear around Covid spreading through HVAC was the near-hysteria around density and Covid spread. This exploration revealed that well-designed suburbia indeed has a lot to offer in a pandemic, especially when compared to high density areas without enough green space.