Research into high-rise living and resident satisfaction

Andrew Carre

Andrew Carre

By Mindy Gill

A Melbourne researcher is investigating the link between resident satisfaction and the indoor environment in high-rise apartment buildings in Melbourne’s CBD.

The University of Adelaide’s Dr Andrew Carre is leading the research, with results potentially placing architects, developers and builders in a better position to develop quality design and construction.

“Indoor environment – the light, the noise, the air quality, the thermal environment – plays a significant role in determining our satisfaction with our dwelling,” he told CBD News.

People adapt their apartments to try and achieve the outcomes that they’re looking for, Dr Carre said, and it’s a balancing act that requires investigation.

“On one hand, you’re looking for good access to natural light. On the other hand, you don’t want your apartment to overheat. How can we best abide for comfortable environments for people?” he said.

Set against the striking proliferation of residential city skyscrapers over the last 20 years, the study comes amidst concerns over whether high-density growth can deliver long-term liveable outcomes.

A report, written by former City of Melbourne planner Leanne Hodyl as part of a Churchill Fellowship, found that high-rise apartments were being built in Melbourne at four times the maximum densities allowed in places like Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo – some of the highest density cities in the world.

“Increasing the supply of housing in the central city close to jobs and transport brings numerous benefits to the city and should be supported,” the report says. “The high-rise apartment tower plays an important role in delivering this supply.”

But construction has been approved with “little regard on the effect on the residents within, the impact on the streets below or on the value of neighbouring properties,” the report found.

Dr Carre said the desire to bring people back into Melbourne started in the 1990s as a way to reinvigorate the city with public benefits through density bonuses such as parks, plazas and community facilities like childcare.

“All of a sudden, when you go to the park, you’re not going by yourself. There’s other people there. Your living room becomes the cafe on the ground floor. You want to go throw the Frisbee or kick the football, you go to the park to do it. You don’t do it in your backyard. You’re far more connected with your fellow citizens.”

With a preliminary trial centred around one-hour focus group sessions, Dr Carre wants to speak with residents of high-rise buildings.

Focus groups will run on September 6 and 13 at RMIT University (corner of LaTrobe and Swanston streets). To register for a session, visit http://bit.ly/IEQfocus

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