The Better Apartments Draft Design Standards have been released by the Victorian State Government. The purpose of these standards includes ensuring that apartments are better designed, to respond to the needs of people with disabilities and the elderly, to mitigate the effects of climate change and to maintain Melbourne’s reputation as a “liveable city”. This important document will have a direct impact upon Melbourne and our regional cities.
The proposed standards are to be welcomed as a definite improvement, ensuring minimum standards of daylight, ventilation, accessibility, storage and acoustics.
However there are two distinct differences between the standards adopted in NSW and those proposed in Victoria, both of which are of serious concern not just to architects, but also to the long term outcomes for our cities:
- Minimum apartment sizes: whilst it is recognised that small, well designed apartments can be successful, it is also recognised that whilst this may be acceptable in some cases, good design would need to be demonstrated. Additional measures, such as the use of a design review panel, or other expert judgement, should be mandated where apartment sizes of less than 35m2, (the minimum apartment size in NSW) are proposed. We would ask all readers to visualise a 7m x 5m apartment and consider living within that space. What would be required in order to make that space liveable? Excellent, not average, design.
- Lack of mandating the use of an architect. The standards fail to mandate the use of architects in the design process. This system has operated in NSW for the last 10 years. A government review has indicated that the quality of apartments has increased significantly over this period. Interested members may wish to refer to this article.
The Australian Institute of Architects has prepared a response, you can view it here.
ArchiTeam is preparing its own response on behalf of all members, and we also invite and encourage all members to submit their personal responses. Responses are due by 5pm on September 19th 2016. Please do stand up for good design, we need as many responses as possible.
You can lodge your response here.