Top 5 key points to better apartment design for the 2020’s.

Top 5 key points to better apartment design for the 2020’s.


1. Getting the Mix Right

It is important to engage with a local Real Estate Agent to get a feel for the current market trends and what type of property is in demand at the moment, relative to that suburb. This should be accomplished at an early stage to help determine the mix of 1Bed, 2Bed and 3Bed apartments for feasibility purposes.

Current market trends suggest an increase in popularity for larger 2Bed2Bath & 3Bed apartments to attract downsizers, whereas 1Bed apartments are better suited and in demand closer to tertiary education facilities and activity zones.

Getting the correct mix will also help determine the number of cars spaces necessary for the potential development. The carparking requirement is often a governing factor in the end yield and can affect future investors purchasing decisions.


2. Size Matters

Size doesn’t always matter, but in this case it does. Gone are the days of the negative connotation associated with apartments being referred to as ‘dog-boxes’.

With the introduction of the Better Apartment Design Standards (more commonly known as BADs) a few years ago, there is now minimum room sizes and other minimum design guidelines that need to be achieved for living areas, bedrooms and circulation.

This greatly improves the design outcome, however, there is no minimum apartment floor area requirement. We need to educate our clients that it isn’t as simple as 1Beds are 50sqm anymore. Good design can often overcome size constraints.


3. Optimise Apartment Layouts

Adaptable and considered layouts provide longevity and increase liveability for future occupants. To help achieve an adaptable layout it is important to show realistic scaled furniture on apartment layout plans to ensure the designer considers circulation spaces and functionality of the internal areas.

Another integral part of achieving good space planning is to place habitable areas directly adjacent to windows and outdoor balconies/terraces with a north orientation where possible.

These areas benefit from direct solar access, ventilation, optimised views and connectivity to the exterior. Both overhanging and inset balconies types can benefit the layout in differing ways.

One can assist in shading windows in summer whilst also providing privacy to the interiors, the other can maximise increased daylight into the rooms and provide greater protection from the elements.

Ensure the correct balcony configuration is used dependant on the building orientation and site context.


4. Where’s my storage?

 This was often a common question by disappointed apartment owners once they moved in.

Storage was often neglected in the poorly designed apartments of the early 2000’s as during this period developers were too focused on achieving a certain sized floor area rather than considering how people were going to be using and living within the Space.

BAD’s has also introduced minimum volume requirements for internal storage within the apartments over and above the traditional storage cage found within the carpark levels.

In order to meet these storage requirements, well designed and considered joinery such as linen cupboards, broom cupboards and storage joinery become essential and should be located adjacent to euro-laundries and other wet areas for practicality.


5. Invest in a good Service Engineer

Don’t forget about the essential services required for the proposed development to operate! The amount of apartment sketch plans and town planning sets that I have seen in my time that have neglected services is shocking.

By doing this, you are overpromising your client larger sellable area when in actual fact essential building services such as mail zones, gas cupboards, riser ducts, fire boosters, pump rooms, electrical switch rooms, waste chutes and refuse rooms will be taking up a lot of the common areas and sellable apartment space.

Engage a good services engineer to provide some preliminary advice and mud-map spatial sketches to ensure these requirements are taken into account from day one.



Although over the years we have seen changes in design, function and market demand in the multi-residential apartment sector, the one thing that has remained constant at Watson Young Architects is working collaboratively and closely with our clients to deliver sharp and functional outcomes. We understand the importance of client objectives and focus on a high-quality satisfied result for the end-user.

Written by Watson Young Associate, Tas Tzoulis.

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