Architects support apartment standards

The Australian Institute of Architects is looking forward to the upcoming release of the Victorian apartment design guidelines and fully supports the introduction of minimum standards in the interest of public amenity.

Professor Ken Maher, spokesperson and National President of the Institute congratulates the Minister for Planning, the Hon Richard Wynne on this initiative.

‘The Institute has a long standing position of supporting the implementation of apartment design guidelines and similar planning legislation in all jurisdictions. The guidelines will enable Melbourne to continue to be one of the world’s most liveable cities,’ Prof Maher said.

The Institute believes that Victoria should not only have design guidelines, but should also introduce design review panels to consider proposals that don’t adhere to the guidelines including smaller apartments. Small apartments need high levels of amenity and high quality design to avoid contributing to sub-standard housing stock. If Victorians are to experience a quality built environment there must also be ongoing checking to ensure the approved design intent is being maintained through project procurement and construction. There must also be a requirement to use registered architects to design multi-storey apartment buildings as is the case in NSW to ensure quality and provide consumer protection.

This approach is not novel according to Prof Maher. ‘NSW has had something similar for 10 years, and the recent review of the NSW system confirmed that the legislative package has resulted in improved living standards in NSW. It has received broad support from the industry and local authorities.’

The Institute welcomes the opportunity to further consider the metrics to ensure appropriate minimum standards while maintaining flexibility for design innovation, and to ensure the controls can work in practice, possibly through design testing on selected sites.

‘We look forward to working closely with the OVGA, the Department of Planning and key industry and community stakeholders to develop and deliver a sound policy and regulatory framework that provides performance based design quality guidelines.

‘We see this current initiative in Victoria as the beginning of a new framework aimed at encouraging innovative design solutions that lead to improved affordability, housing diversity, and improved living standards – now and into the future,’ Prof Maher said.