Social Trends Impacting Unit Developments


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There’s no doubt about it, apartments are at the forefront of Australia’s current boom in high-density living.

This year’s Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show a year-on-year increase in approvals for flats, units and townhouses of 59% – the first time in trend terms that approvals to build new apartments have outstripped approvals to build free-standing houses.

But what underlying social trends are influencing the current crop of multi-dwelling developers and architects?

And how will a new generation have access to increasingly unaffordable city living?

Real estate agent is drawing the chart of the real estate market on the glass screen.

Creative approach to new multi-unit developments

One Melbourne architecture company is challenging the entrenched pattern of current Australian apartment blocks.

Breathe Architecture has developed the Nightingale model, following its success in the 2014 Sustainability Awards where the company took out the highest honours for its affordable, sustainable housing model The Commons.

The Breathe team hopes that The Nightingale, a 20-unit Melbourne development sitting opposite The Commons, will revolutionise apartment building throughout Australia.

Creative approach to new multi-unit developments

Breathe is dedicated to providing ethical, fairly priced projects designed to maximise benefits for residents along with their community and environment.

Cost saving. They plan to reduce marketing and sales costs by around $400,000, also reducing construction costs by about $1.1 million. They do this by eliminating display suite, real estate agents, basement car parking, second bathrooms and individual laundries and services. The ground floor tenancy will be titled to the body corporate.

Sustainable. The Nightingale is intended to be Zero Emission Ready with no gas reticulated to the apartment portion of the block. The team is also aiming for only renewable energy to be supplied to the development, both onsite and offsite. An 8-star average energy rating is the goal, with no cooling in individual apartments.

Liveable. Breathe Architecture intends The Nightingale units to be functional, comfortable and easy to live in, providing high quality accommodation at more affordable prices. Focus will be on communal and social interactions, with shared laundry areas, ground floor retail, and a large rooftop garden and terrace.

Replicable. Breathe, through ‘architectural activism’, intends its model to be replicated by other architects and developers with similar goals and a social conscience.

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Global social trends influencing housing

A major UK study Tomorrow’s Home: Emerging Social Trends and their Impact on the Built Environment examines the millennial generation – today’s 18 to 34-year-olds – and how their changing lifestyles and expectations will shape tomorrow’s housing developments.

The report notes that fewer Millennials are opting to live alone, choosing to live with friends and family instead. Only 10% of 25-44 year-olds and 4% of 16-24 year-olds now live solo, with shared households of unrelated adults on the rise. This has been largely driven by ever spiralling housing costs.

Future house builders are anticipated to build flexible units which can be up-sized into a house for extended family or down-sized into individual apartments as required.
Apartment blocks with body corporate management are at the height of their popularity, and the drive towards more sustainable high-density living will continue to shape the multi-unit developments of the future.

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