Institute congratulates Minister Wynne on recognising importance of design for our cities

The Australian Institute of Architects warmly welcomes the announcements made at the National Architecture Conference by the Minister regarding the Better Apartments initiative and the repositioning and continued resourcing of the Victorian Government Architect’s Office and its associated programs.

These initiatives will work together to promote good design for our communities and in particular design for high density living, understanding that good design addresses functionality, safety, sustainability, productivity, and adaptability as well as aesthetics – and it is also inspiring.

‘We fully support the introduction of minimum standards in the interest of the public and the long term sustainability of the construction sector, an industry which is the second largest contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the Australian economy at approximately 7.8 per cent,’ Victorian Chapter President Peter Malatt said.

‘The Institute supports a model similar to the NSW SEPP 65 framework that also includes a residential flat code. This model contains not only design guidelines, but also the requirement for design review panels; the requirement for ongoing checking that the approved design intent is being maintained through project procurement and construction and the requirement to use registered architects to design multi-storey apartment buildings.

‘A recent review of the NSW model confirmed that the legislative package has resulted in improved living standards in NSW and has received broad support from the industry and local authorities. It has helped to make design a central feature in the planning and approval of this building type. The success of the SEPP indicates that design considerations are fundamental to the achievement of high quality building projects,’ Mr Malatt said.

The experience in NSW has reinforced that better design quality is best achieved through a shared responsibility across three crucial stages in the development process:

• Involving better designers – requiring the involvement of a registered architect in the design of all apartment buildings provides quality control;
• Better, design based rules – The SEPP’s design principles and the Residential Flat Design Code establish a clear framework of minimum standards that also provide flexibility for innovation;
• Good decisions – applying design skill and judgment to the decision-making process. Design Review Panels provide impartial design advice based on the appraisal of projects against the principles and the Code.

We welcome this dual announcement by Minister Wynne, and look forward to working closely with the OVGA, the Dept. of Planning and key industry and community stakeholders to develop and deliver a policy and regulatory framework that provides performance based design quality guidelines that can be applied in a flexible way to allow innovative design solutions which lead to improved affordability, housing diversity, and better-quality living standards – now and into the future.