As a result of an increased strategic push for inner-city residential density and a growing number of apartments being advertised for sale, Spaced Out Placemakers, Urbis and The Agency Projects Development Team were keen to investigate the question, ‘…are we getting the apartment design model right?’

Our research team at Spaced Out embarked on a new voyage to investigate the popularity of different design aspects in Perth inner city apartment living and whether the property industry is currently hitting the target of ‘rightsizing’.

The site of this study was the Streets and Lanes Festival in Mount Hawthorn. Setting up a container with posters of relevant data, we interacted with approximately 251 people. Information was provided to us by people through comments on posters. Post it notes were also on hand for those who wanted to write extended comments. A total of 16 interviews (cameos) gave us the opportunity to get an in-depth understanding of the issue at hand and the accumulated data provided a set of key design principles desired by apartment home buyers.

An analysis of the Literature Review pointed to the following:

  • The population of Australia is growing and greying and will thus require appropriate service, product and policy responses.
  • With regards to housing there is seen to be a lack of appropriate or alternate typologies of housing that serves the needs of people looking to down size or right size.
  • This lack of housing translates into people being unable to move where they want to and often having to move away from a place where they have networks or an emotional/historical connection.
  • There is a reticence amongst developers to test new housing models.
  • A “desire for change in lifestyle” and “inability to maintain the garden and/or home” were the two most influential factors.
  • Narratives of “life course” stage and the portrayal of conspicuous consumption were leading to particular forms of housing to the detriment of others.

A wealth of data regarding internal and external design has been generated by this exercise.

Lifestyle factors, being close to one’s networks, sustainable design/design that responds to people’s environmental concerns were stated as favourable.

The need for active communal spaces such as community and vegetable gardens were also noted. As far as internal space was concerned, people told us that they were looking for something more spacious than a typical one or two bedroom and one bathroom unit. An additional space/room was desired for friends and family or other uses such as office studio or storage along with flexible open plan spaces and a ‘design your own floor plan’ style of development.

And last but not there was a call to developers and policy makers to explore new possibilities in housing density, which may assist in the formulation of a matured housing market and more resilient apartment life or ‘vertical communities’.

The finalised report has generated conversation in reference to expanding the body of research. Labour MP, John Carey has provided the following comment;

“This report gives a fantastic insight about what people are really looking for if they are to shift to apartment living – and how industry needs to change to provide more innovative and liveable apartments.

It is critical that we encourage a greater diversity and mix in apartment buildings across Perth – if we are able to achieve it, we have a real opportunity to create more community orientated density across our city.”

Please feel free to download a copy of the full research paper below entitled ‘Living Moves On’. Also attached is an engagement methodology toolkit for expanding the current research in neighbouring suburbs around Western Australia and further abroad.

Photo Credits: Duncan Wright (cover photo)

Living Moves – Research Report

Living Moves On – Engagement Toolkit

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