Design Considerations for Child and Family Friendly Apartments

Families in Australia are increasingly raising their children in apartments, despite these dwellings being designed and marketed for those without children. While apartment living has many benefits for families with children, design that does not consider children as residents, can be challenging for families. This report was commissioned to provide research, analysis and recommendations for how the Victorian planning system can better support child/family friendly apartment buildings.

This research builds and draws upon previous international evidence exploring parents’ experiences of raising children in apartment settings (F Andrews & Warner, 2019; F Andrews et al., 2019; Appold & Yuen, 2007; Carroll et al., 2011; Dockery, Ong, Colquhoun, Li, & Kendall, 2013; H Easthope & Tice, 2011; Fincher, 2007; Heenan, 2017; Karsten, 2015; Lilius, 2014; Warner & Andrews, 2019; Carolyn Whitzman & Dana Mizrachi, 2009) by consulting with architects about designing apartments for families. It addresses an absence of industry perspectives in the literature by relating the lived experiences of residents with architects’ understanding of their needs. The research asks, how do architects see that apartment design guidelines can be reconciled with the needs of families with children?

The report is presented in four parts. The first part provides the rationale for child and family friendly housing, expanding on the work undertaken in Stage 1 of this research. The second part provides a review of some best practice examples of planning for child and family friendly apartment buildings from other Australian or international jurisdictions. This highlights processes, planning documents, design standards and guidelines which are considered leading examples. This is followed by the third part which describes the findings from some targeted industry consultation to test attitudes towards the research observations. Finally, the fourth part brings together a review of how Victoria’s current Better Apartments Design Standards and Apartment Design Guidelines perform in relation to the research findings and produces recommendations for changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions and other associated tools such as design guidance.

This report has produced recommendations for consideration in informing how the Victorian planning system and the Better Apartment Design Standards (BADS) can better support child and family friendly apartment buildings.

25 recommendations for review of the Victorian BADS are listed. These are described in detail at the end of Part 4 of the report; including examples of how international best-practice examples have addressed these requirements, and advice on implementation in the Victorian context. The recommendations are summarised below according to 13 design spheres.

The work highlights the need for future research with a wider audience of stakeholders, on clarifying the impact of cultural differences, and on co-design and co-evaluation with families. The importance is also highlighted of participatory design, where users and architects work together to build consensus.

Deakin HOME FFA Report Recommendations

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