The world is growing and design excellence in common multi residential developments has to be part of our future.
This excellence involves seven basic ideals.
Thinking about this needs to be characterized by a spirit of innovation, will and resolve.
Ideal No.1 – North Orientation
In the southern hemisphere, building design for north orientation allows warm winter sun into the building for free passive heating, and also hot summer sun is not allowed in, meaning free passive cooling.
Control of sunlight inside also creates positive physiological and psychological conditions for occupants.
Design for north orientation means developments will be one-residence thick resulting in better cross-ventilation, views and control of neighbour noise.
Utilizing north orientation means too that neighbours to a development can’t be allowed to be deprived of its benefits.
Ideal No.2 – Location
Multi residential developments are best located walking distance to public transport and suburban centers or community hubs which are necessary not only for commerce, but for social interaction.
Developments need to be located on relatively flat topography so that persons with disability can move in and around the development.
Ideal No.3 – Containment of Site Traffic
The vehicular traffic of a development needs to be contained within the development and not put on a side boundary where the neighbour becomes a victim of excessive traffic noise and air pollution, and loss of privacy.
This applies to the smallest of developments, and even means discontinuing the practice of sub-dividing sites with a battle-axe property with a side driveway.
Ideal No.4 – Spacious Residences
Different markets and locations demand different size units which can range from small residences, such as one-bedroom studios, to family homes. Most modern families demand a four-bedroom home.
Residences need plenty of space including plenty of storage space. Private carports should be enclosed and provide additional storage space, as well as space for small workshop type activities.
Private outdoor space is a must and in larger developments this is usually via a deck. If a deck is the sole private outdoor space, it needs to have room for all of; 1) a good size table with 4 chairs, 2) space for potted planting, 3) space for a physical activity such as tai chi. A separate outdoor space for clothes drying should be provided.
Deck placement needs to minimize chance of tobacco smoke drifting from one deck to another, and provide inter-residence visual and acoustic privacy. Decks do not need to be used for inter-residence socializing; this is done via common spaces.
Ideal No.5 – Common Spaces
Common spaces are for people to socially interact for their psychological well-being.
The spaces outside residence front doors, such as lift lobbies need to be pleasant and spacious, and have facilities (eg seating) to encourage social interaction. Long narrow corridors need to be avoided.
On-site all-resident communal areas are essential and could exist as groupings of small shops and cafes, swimming pools and gymnasiums, and landscaped areas including communal vegie gardens.
Suburban business centers or community hubs need to be within walking distance of the development for broader social interactions.
Ideal No.6 – Self-sufficiency
Developments should have a high level of self-sufficiency, including generating electricity, collecting rainwater, utilizing gray water, growing food-producing gardens, and having spaces for small workshops, offices, and other businesses.
A technician may be needed to help maintain this level of self-sufficiency.
Ideal No.7 – People with Disability Access
People with disability (PWD) access needs to be incorporated in each residence including for bathrooms, carports and other facilities such as providing space for a future lift in 2-story residences.
Developments should be located on flat land with flat land between the development and nearby community and transport hubs.
This all exceeds mandatory minimum standards because it is about lifestyle. Residents get older, or they may be related to people with disabilities, or they themselves may suffer unexpected accident or illness resulting in temporary or permanent disability.
Incorporating all seven ideals in multi residential developments has never been achieved in the provision of common every-day housing.
However, this does not mean it is impossible, but it would take significant innovation and entrepreneurship to pull it off.
When it happens, like any new technology or breakthrough, it becomes easier for others to do.
Standard regulatory minimums are not good enough. People are not commodities to be packed on shelves.
Who is going to try the impossible?