The current housing market is failing to deliver good design outcomes for higher density housing in Australian cities. As a result, dwellings are unaffordable and inappropriate for the wide range of households that are seeking medium density living. Amongst housing industry stakeholders, there is a perception that good design provides long term benefits for the community, but that it may provide limited benefits for the initial investors and builders involved. As a result, without a rigorous evidence base, the arguments for good design are dismissed as part of a discipline-based ‘belief’ system and any additional costs that arise deemed unnecessary.
This study comprised an international literature analysis and a set of confidential interviews with building industry stakeholders from Victoria, NSW and SA to explore how they define, measure and incorporate value and good design elements in projects, and what the perceived costs and benefits are from mechanisms to improve design outcomes.
What is good design? Industry stakeholders broadly agreed that well-designed developments are connected, diverse, sustainable, comfortable, safe, walkable and characterful, adding to urban vibrancy and aesthetic experience.