Article by Davina Deluao
As the state continues to grow, the Victorian Government has introduced the proposal for new planning standards regarding the development of apartment buildings. The COVID related lockdowns of 2020 have opened up discussions about building better apartments in neighbourhoods with improved designs that better meet the requirements of residents. Focusing on the liveability and safety of residents in apartment complexes, the updated rules will come into effect around late 2021 and aim to enhance high-density living.
This article outlines a few of the main design standards to be implemented.
There will be a rise in communal spaces being created particularly with apartment buildings that have more than 10 dwellings. Currently, having a shared open space is only applied to buildings that have 40 dwellings or more. The outdoor area will include seating, recreational facilities and a welcoming space for the community. With a majority of households spending time indoors and continuing to work from home, having access to fresh air away from enclosed areas has been recognised to boost the health and wellbeing of occupants.
Landscaping design will be strengthened by embracing a more environmentally friendly approach and extra greenery. Developers will be required to add courtyards, lawns, roof terraces and engaging street frontages without blocking the view of pedestrians or cyclists. They will also have to ensure that there’s enough room for canopy trees to thrive and that deep soil is being used for plant growth. The design standards will also encourage apartments to be more energy-efficient and to utilise natural light, with balconies being modified to avoid overshadowing apartments underneath.
To benefit both tenants and owners, the building process will be required to incorporate durable materials that are suitable to the existing street conditions. The building facades should be of high quality and reliable enough to withstand varying weather temperatures. To provide protection from the impacts of excessive wind tunnelling at elevated buildings, sensitive design will be applied for apartments that are over 5 storeys high. Meanwhile, windswept balconies on properties that are beyond 40 metres tall will be taken out and alternatively transformed into a functional space that can serve as a home office or living room.
With cities and urban living steadily expanding, there is a need for public amenities, employment opportunities, walkability and transport services nearby. The apartment complex setting will be revised to replace vast walls or fences and keep car park entrances and waste collection from hindering pedestrian access. To address the changing housing lifestyles, apartment designs are expected to make a positive contribution to the neighbourhood and surrounding public spaces.
As apartments continue to be a popular and affordable option, there will be a number of improvements expected to take place in the following months to further increase the security and comfortability for all. To find out more about the guidelines and policy areas that are involved in the Better Apartments Design Standards, visit the planning.vic.gov.au website.
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