The Australian Institute of Architects’ President Shannon Battisson has called on Building Ministers across Australia to ensure that all States and Territories sign up to new minimum standards for housing livability.
Building Ministers will meet on August 26 to consider changes to the Australian Building Code Board’s 2022 National Construction Code. This includes the new standard for Livable Housing Design, which requires all new homes to have basic minimum accessibility features such as one level entrance and a toilet on the ground floor.
Ms, Battisson said that the Australian Institute of Architects and the International Union of Architects are strong advocates of Architecture for All – ensuring accessible and inclusive design.
”With more than half a million people reported as needing assistance with mobility alone in the ABS’ 2018 disability, ageing and carers survey, design standards such as wider doorways, eliminating thresholds into people’s homes, and providing for bedroom and bathroom areas in a dwelling’s entry level needs to be factored into our homes. This new Livable Housing Standard is only a minimum standard – a place to start – and there is a need to progress the standard to the benchmarks of Livable Housing Australia’s gold and platinum standards.”
The Federal Treasury’s 2021 Intergeneration Report has forecast that by 2060-61, 23 per cent of the Australian population is projected to be over 65, 7 per cent up from 2020-21. ABS life expectancy data released just last year tells us that Australians aged 50 can expect to live another 35 years on average.
“This all has major implications for our built environment, especially as we ‘age in place’ and seek to remain active and independent as possible in our homes and community,” said Ms Battisson.
The Institute also advocates for enabling design that considers not just mobility, but also sensory, neurological and cognitive issues. With implications for wayfinding, light, noise and other characteristics, good design can enable people to participate more fully wherever they work, live, or play.
Any of us may acquire a mobility limiting condition at any age as a result of an accident or health conditions such as motor neurone disease, early onset Parkinson’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis. As we age, many of us will also experience some limited mobility.
Ms Battisson emphasised that it was important to look beyond short-term cost and towards long-term social and economic outcomes,
“The homes we build today will be around for at least 80-100 years. Establishing higher standards now in 2022 means that people born with or who live with differing abilities won’t be limited to a small supply of community or specialist housing. For all of us, we will be able to age in our own home safely and comfortably. And even if we are fortunate not to experience any mobility limitations – we can invite family and friends with mobility difficulties to visit our homes knowing there will be no barriers.
By increasing the livability standards of all housing, Australians now and coming generations will enjoy a legacy that gives everyone more choice in the homes they choose to rent or buy – regardless of where they choose to live for work, family and lifestyle reasons.”
Media contact: Rosanne Barrett on behalf of the Australian Institute of Architects
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