While the development process is complex and buildings are here for a long time, technology advances are increasingly rapid.
Currently the demand and price for inner city dwellings is increasing, somewhat reflecting the rise in land and construction prices. We believe it is opportune that architects and developers re-evaluate the requirements of apartment occupants, and better consider future trends in apartment design.
While affordability is always a major concern, so is receiving a stable and growing rental income from your investment. Ultimately, property value is a measure of how desirable your property is compared to others.
Re-thinking Conventional Apartment Design
As development sites become more expensive and average apartment sizes reduce, experienced developers understand the importance of efficient design that utilizes limited space well.
The profile of today’s inner-city renter has also changed from the occupant of 10 years ago. They are more focused on ‘having it all now’, driven by lifestyle quality, are technology-savvy, and accustomed to having control and customization over their life.
Developers must re-evaluate where their money is being spent and focus on occupant’s priorities in order to facilitate successful, future-proof developments.
We believe the following items are fundamental:
Well designed units should include efficient, flexible layouts and abundant storage.
Quality communal living spaces
Quality communal living spaces are essential to compensate for reduced apartment sizes.
These semi-private and semi-public meeting spaces are becoming the social and recreation hubs of the building. These areas must be prioritised and purposefully designed to provide the amenity to attract modern residents.
Above Image: Arena Apartments, South Brisbane by Ellivo Architects
Building management systems
Together with “The Internet of Everything”, building management systems are set to become the driver of the smart-home, where intelligent building automation systems allow users to connect, monitor and control their everyday devices remotely from their smart phone, laptop or tablet.
Forward-looking developers are now implementing smart technology offered by, for example, KNX Australia. This will enable residents to turn the air-con or heater on or off on the way home, check live building activity through CCTV, lock and unlock doors for visitors, adjust lighting in every room, as well as monitor house-hold metering including water and energy efficiency.
Building management systems are difficult and expensive to retrofit, and we find it is far more economical and efficient if these systems are integrated early in the design phase. An example of cost savings can be found in minimising the amount of electrical wiring required for these systems, as wiring to various units and rooms can be efficiently installed where required during construction.
Currently, the cost to invest in this emerging technology may be out of reach for some developments – however, as IT providers compete to provide a better offering that cater for market demand, it is only a matter of time before this technology becomes an affordable requirement for all developments.
Above Image: Gira KNX System ‘Home Server 3′. Retrieved from: http://www.gira.com
Technological advancements for cars
Technological advancements for cars and other vehicles should not be overlooked.
Prototypes of foldable vehicles are currently being tested world-wide as car storage becomes more expensive. While it seems inevitable that the typical car size will reduce and efficient vehicle storage such as car-stackers will become more widespread, we should take advantage on the technology that is readily available to us.
Hybrid and electric cars are more common, and a number of developers have already capitalised on this trend. Ellivo Architects are currently working on several projects which provide communal and individual recharge points for electric cars.
Above Image: ‘The Hiriko Fold’ (Copyright: MIT Media Lab). Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.com
Understand the End-User
As apartment numbers grow and choice increases for renters, it is clear that conventional ‘business as usual’ apartment design is not a great long-term strategy.
Ellivo Architects are continuing to invest in research that monitors direct user-experiences and translate these insights into thoughtful designs, developed through prescience to better satisfy the building’s occupants.
1. “The Internet of Everything” or IoE, dubbed by Cisco CEO John Chambers as “the next big thing” in technology, presenting a $19 trillion industry-wide opportunity. Sourced from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/connieguglielmo/2014/01/07/ces-live-cisco-ceo-chambers-to-deliver-keynote/