Affordable housing project Richmond Apartments (Image: Supplied)

The Richmond Apartments -- 107 homes built over eight storeys clustered around an atrium and with cascading plants -- sits in Bowen Hills, a few kilometres from Brisbane.

It was developed by the not-for-profit Brisbane Housing Company when many residents would struggle to afford a decent home in the private rental market.

Adrian, 69, said he would have to pay $100-$150 more a week to a private landlord. Erica said that she used to have to cook her meals in an electric frypan in a cramped bedsit with no kitchen. Now she not only has a stove, an oven and a separate bedroom, but a balcony, and as the building was designed for the climate, she stays comfortable in a Brisbane summer without needing an air-conditioner.