Apartment projects come in various sizes from two to 10,000 and every combination in between. This is an exciting landscape with increasing demand and where it’s possible to apply lots of imagination. It’s also an area where as market demand shifts we need an informed view of how we deliver new projects.
It’s always possible for a project of any size to be a great environment for those that live there and for the wider community. And as we see apartment living becoming more common across cities as varied as Sydney, Singapore or Los Angles there’s a wealth of experience informing today’s market.
First a little step back. We already know that cities are popular places, we also know that as they spread density and economy of scale become key issues. The idea of lots of personal space surrounded by an abundance of attractive open space is appealing, but on the other hand sprawling suburbs, extending far beyond centres of employment, commerce and culture produce their own problems. These problems often take the form of traffic snarls, lack of infrastructure and long un-productive and frustrating commute times.
Finding any space in our cities is an expensive exercise. Land is in limited supply and while single homes might be appealing, they are not the future. Apartment living is, and there are many cities where apartment living has produced lots of desirable neighbourhoods. Think of Paris, Chicago or Barcelona.
It is possible to produce apartments where people, families, wish to live. These are not spaces that are boxy, lack light or have poor ventilation, instead they are welcoming places. One way to think of a desirable apartment project is as a city in miniature. A place where private, community and public space works in harmony assisted by great design and planning.
Where we live is made up of a few key elements. There’s the exterior space and the private interior space. There will also be times when we want peace and quiet, when at the end of the day people close their front door to relax. There will be other times when people are happy to meet their neighbours, chat, pass the time of day, developments always need to balance private and communal spaces.
Shared spaces need to fit the varied lifestyle aspirations of the neighbourhood. You might feel like meeting around the communal pool, or chat while enjoying a rooftop garden, but at other times, you’ll look for a more personal space to just sit in the sun, in fresh air and read.
It is possible to meet all these needs and as cities will continue to grow, we should not fear density. We have the design skills, the building technology and materials and the imagination to continue to create great apartment projects. Interesting projects where we would all happily live.
Density can be achieved as a series of urban villages or by reaching skywards with amenities spread across these projects to be used by the residents, but also by the wider community.
We all need private spaces so that once we close the front door we can get on with our lives, and that’s essential. Apartments need good natural light and cross ventilation, solid soundproofing and most layouts already do that.
However, if we approach developments that deliver private, public and community space, and that includes on ‘private’ land then we create more secure and dynamic communities and individual apartments are more appealing.
In the spirit of creating great apartment projects it’s also of value to acknowledge that people are adaptable and that includes children, with good design and amenity density should not be an issue.
Better Apartments. Better Cities.
Over the last decade in many different cities we’ve seen a big increase in the demand for apartments and this trend has also seen an increase in new supply. And a great deal of planning and imagination is being employed to build more and better apartments.
The numbers of people living in major cities is driving this trend along with a need to tackle the housing shortage and to help deliver more affordable housing. Governments are also keen to see scarce land used more economically; with energy savings and positive environmental commitments that will all combine to create attractive and financially viable urban centers.
These goals are already leading to the creation of some of the most highly innovative buildings and mixed-use projects with great examples across Australia.
Photo credit Esplanade Norwest