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How Architecture Can Change Lives
By Kylie Scott
November 5, 2018
While many developers are embracing the latest green designs in their buildings, we are now hoping that more will consider 'livable options' in the design phase.
Livable options incorporate some simple design changes that will be of considerable help when it comes to meeting the needs of Australian occupants better. These homes will offer a more comfortable, and ultimately safer, living environment, especially for the elderly, disabled, and families with prams.
There are three levels—Silver, Gold and Platinum—that can be achieved through livable design. The following points show a brief outline of what should be achieved as a baseline.
The home should be:
• easy to enter
• easy to navigate in and around
• capable of easy and cost-effective adaptation
• responsive to the changing needs of home occupants
The core factors include metre-wide hallways, a step-free shower recess, 870-millimetre-wide doorways, extra reinforcement in bathroom walls to allow for grab rails to be installed when needed, at least one entry without stairs and 1.2 metres between the toilet and the toilet door. These simple features can make a huge difference in the lives of the occupants as their needs change.
With a population boasting an estimated 3.7 million people over the age of 65, it’s imperative that these housing options be readily available.
Looking at New South Wales, the state is projected to grow by more than 100,000 people every year until 2036. This equates to an additional 2.1 million residents needing accommodation. Sydney alone is projected to need 725,000 new homes over the next 20 years to keep up with demand. Now is the perfect time to meet the needs of our diverse and growing population.
While livable design has been slow to take off, Grocon's $40 million Greenwich Fairfield Apartments in Melbourne has received solid interest from buyers. The project is set to become one of the area's most sustainable and socially-aware apartment developments. Many units have been purchased by people looking to downsize, and the livable design features have proven popular. Even if the need is not apparent to buyers in their current situation, many say they want to future-proof their purchase.
‘Ageing-in-place’ is becoming the preferred lifestyle choice of the baby-boomer population in Australia
‘Ageing-in-place’ is becoming the preferred lifestyle choice of the baby-boomer population in Australia. People with a disability and the older demographic prefer to remain in their own homes for as long as they are able. The cost of fitting out their existing dwelling to make it more accessible and easier to move around can be quite significant. Some homes are not suitable to incorporate these changes; as a result, some are forced to move to another home which will be able to cater to their changing needs. This, unfortunately, can be both costly and stressful for the people involved. Ensuring livable housing design is integrated early in the residential development process can contribute to economic outcomes—accessible housing becomes more affordable in comparison with costly refurbishments or having to relocate to another home or even an aged care facility.
The ABC recently reported that Martin Locke, a North Queensland builder, has been pushing for Townsville to become a pilot city where every new home is built to a silver level standard. This will be an interesting story to follow.
If you are not convinced there is a need for livable housing, check out these statistics from the Livable Housing Design Guidelines.
• The ageing baby boomer demographic represents a growing market for age-friendly, livable designed housing.
• One in five (close to 4 million) Australians currently have a disability of some type—about 320,000 are children.
• The number of Australians with a disability will inevitably rise as the population grows and ages.
• Research indicates a 60 per cent chance that a house will be occupied by a person with a disability at some point over its life.
• The family home accounts for 62 per cent of all falls and slip-based injuries, costing the Australian population $1.8 billion in public health costs.
• The cost of including key livable housing design features (in this case, the silver level) is 22 times more efficient than retrofitting at a later date.
According to advocates, research shows that introducing livable housing in the initial build process presents cost savings over a property’s life, mainly through a reduction in falls and reduced admissions to hospitals.
green rating system
quality and safety
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