Multi housing developments, mixed use, medium density, intensification, are all words that will now become part of the vernacular as we describe our neighbourhoods. The quarter acre section is no longer found in urban life, and with these changes come the realities, threats and opportunities that arise when there is change.
Auckland Council, like many city councils around the world, has released their planning frameworks for the next 30 years, and intensive development is part of the mix. There is nothing inherently good or bad about this from a universal housing design perspective. Apartment living offers considerable scope to create designs that will enable most people to live more easily. Proximity to transport hubs, recreational, retail and health services combined with a diversity of occupants can make for aspirational, vibrant and liveable communities.
The devil, as always, is in the detail.
Not all apartments are designed for easy living. Just because there is a level entrance and a lift, it doesn’t mean the dwelling has taken into account the current and future needs of occupants.
Some recent apartment plans we have reviewed indicate systemic design failures. Corridor angles would prevent emergency services stretchers from entering the apartment. Kitchens are positioned next to the entry door and become a dangerous thoroughfare.
Bathrooms have layout designs that will restrict the ability of any care requirements, such as assistance with showering. Poor toilet positioning means grab rails cannot be easily installed at a later stage and in one instance the bedroom that was so small that anyone with a mobile mobility aid would be required to transfer onto the bed and then off the bed to access the bathroom.
These are features that will make life difficult and are not as safe as they could be. However, it’s important to note that all of these designs do meet current building code requirements, which is an issue for another day.
Our advice for future apartment dwellers and developers is to carefully consider the design requirements and aspects of an apartment that will make living easy. If the light switches are easily visible and aligned with lever door handles, and power point plugs are located all well off the floor, then it’s a good indicator that other aspects of the design have been well thought through. If, however, the toilet is in the middle of the bathroom or you have to cross through the kitchen to get to the entry door, then this is a concern and you should reconsider what living will be like in this place.
The Lifemark™ Homescore tool is a simple and FREE way to assess the performance of an apartment. A score of 100% does not guarantee easy living, but it is a good indicator. Less than this and you should think about a dwelling that is built and designed by a Lifemark™ Partner.
As always please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org as we turn houses into homes for everyone.