Better Apartment Designs For Our Neighbourhoods

The Heart Foundation welcomes the Victorian Government’s update of the Better Apartments Design Standards, which will result in healthier and more liveable apartment design and healthier communities.

The Victorian Government has updated the Better Apartments Design Standards.  The updated standards focus on the external amenity impacts of apartment buildings and aim to create better apartment buildings in our neighbourhoods.

We prepared a submission to the inquiry, in line with our ongoing advocacy efforts to create healthier communities. We are pleased that the Government has broadly accepted our recommendations.

Some of the benefits of the updated design standards will be that: 

  • More apartment buildings will need to provide green open space for residents and contribute to neighbourhood amenity; 
  • Apartment buildings will better respond to changing population trends, including more families choosing to live in apartments; 
  • Apartment buildings will be built using high-quality building facades made from durable materials; 
  • Buildings will have attractive and engaging street frontages that are safe and useable for pedestrians and cyclists; and 
  • Tall buildings will be designed so they do not cause excessive wind impacts for pedestrians and users of nearby public spaces.

Some of the new changes to apartment design in Victoria will include:

  • Communal open space should be provided in common areas of buildings of 10 dwellings or more to improve residents’ health and wellbeing and provide urban cooling. It should be accessible, functional and easy to maintain. The current standard for communal open space applies to buildings of 40 dwellings or more. 
  • Landscaping should not be an afterthought in building design and planning but incorporated from the beginning of the process.   Canopy trees should have enough space so that they can thrive. 
  • Building façades should be of a high quality, incorporating materials that are durable and make a positive contribution to the existing streetscape. 
  • Publicly accessible outdoor space within an apartment development or on surrounding streets should not have unacceptable wind impacts, as they create unpleasant spaces to walk and congregate. 
  • Street frontages should avoid blank walls or high fences.   Car parking entrances and waste collection areas should not be visible from the street.

These new changes in the design of apartment buildings align closely with The Heart Foundations Healthy Active by Design principles and recommendations.

We will continue to advocate for healthy built environments through improved public transport and pedestrian infrastructure, including 20-minute neighbourhoods planning for healthy communities.

We look forward to continuing to work with Government on this and broader initiatives that lead to healthier communities.

The updated Standards can be viewed at Better Apartments from the state government of Victoria.