Image by Lenny K Photography
With the rapid growth of urbanisation in Australia, the population’s general idea of Australian housing is changing. According to Australians for Affordable Housing, majority of Australians aspire to own their own home, but policies and rising house prices keep them from owning and keeping property. More people are renting, and due to a shortage in places to rent, rents are seemingly rising faster than incomes. Even with Commonwealth Rent Assistance, up to 42% of households are still considered in housing stress.
With this situation in mind, here’s our forecast on the changes we can expect on the overall playing field of Australian city housing.
More Regulations on Apartment Minimum Size
Just as there are regulations on minimum square footage for houses, high-rise apartment units have imposed minimum sizes. But in the future, the government will likely be strict about their implementation. NSW has already set regulations on minimum apartment sizes, and Victoria is following suit.
A survey in Victoria showed that the general population strongly approves of this notion. As much as 76% of survey participants agree that apartments should have ample space and storage to be considered livable.
According to the survey results, space was the second most important factor for a livable home. Space ranked just below daylight, and above ventilation, noise, energy efficiency, and sunlight.
Access to daylight is in the general population’s foremost of priorities, which would mean the next item in this list would have a sizable impact on city residents.
With the lack of places to lease for housing, there is a growing demand for even more high-rise buildings in densely populated cities. Approximately 50 more skyscrapers will be added to Australia’s current collection. Only counting completed high-rise buildings, Sydney and Melbourne both have 31, Brisbane has 13, the Gold Coast has 7, and Perth has 5.
Skyscrapers often spell more innovation and development in the architectural industry, and they can, in fact, help solve Australia’s ongoing housing problem. However, skyscrapers often block sunlight that reaches street level. If more skyscrapers will be built for housing, it will become more likely for districts to have dense blocks of towers that will keep much sunlight out of city grounds. Architects then have to take into more serious consideration the orientation of new skyscrapers and how much shadow new buildings will cast.
This will be a challenge if they cannot work with the next item in this list.
More Building Codes and Standards
The NSW Minister for Planning has recently announced that the government is preparing architectural style guides for various suburbs of Sydney.
While having guides might be helpful, too many rules that are implemented too strictly can hinder creativity and innovation. Aside from making the city look less dynamic, guides can add another layer of red tape to a building’s planning stage, making average construction time for a building take even longer.
Also, guides that inhibit creativity might make it even harder to create designs that guarantee approval. The additional work could eventually add to the cost of Australian housing.
More Emphasis on Energy Efficiency
More buildings will be retrofitted with solar energy panels, and new buildings will be constructed with emphasis on energy efficiency.
Melbourne in particular has seen the installation of more solar panels over the last year. A handful of apartment buildings, standalone dwellings, and commercial buildings all over Melbourne are now running on solar energy. Among the latest of these buildings are the Hero Building on Russell, with the largest solar panel system for an apartment block in Melbourne; and Australia’s fourth tallest skyscraper on Colins, with the highest commercial solar panel system in the country.
While building energy-efficient structures is all well and good and will benefit their occupants in the long run, the initial investment comes at a price. City governments will have to launch initiatives to fund or subsidize energy-efficient building projects before they turn it into a standard. Without state support, building with energy efficiency in mind might contribute to the already rising costs of Australian housing.
How do you think city living in Australia will change? Think we architects can help improve it? Get in touch with us.