Missing Middle – Medium Density Housing

Housing affordability within Australian cities is resulting in greater levels of multigenerational living.  Increasingly, developers are responding to this market by designing “houses with flexibility, a universal design for all ages,” Makoto Ochiai, Sekisui House.

In NSW, a draft Medium Density Design Guide has been developed to encourage supply of housing between apartment and free-standing dwellings.  Read more from the NSW Minister for Planning, Housing and Special Minister of State, the Hon. Anthony Roberts MP.


Livable Housing Design Guidelines v4

Livable Housing Australia has released an updated version of their Guidelines. The latest version does not contain any real changes, rather it tidies up a few inconsistencies and resolves a few queries. With a move to performance criteria in the National Construction Code, it is good to see this highlighted in the document. Livable Housing Australia states, “We champion the adoption by 2020 of a Silver rating for all new homes”.  This is a design guide and as such it does not say how the 2020 target might be reached. Go to the Australian Network for Universal Design for more on this aspect.

For more housing design guidelines go to this section of the CUDA website.


Look here: Kitchen lighting refocused

A modern kitchen with a bowl of fruit in the foreground and a stove and microwave in the backgroundDoug Walter writes in ProRemodeller magazine about new research in kitchen lighting. He says, “Most kitchens are woefully underlit. Lighting is often an afterthought, yet even when it’s carefully planned, designers and lighting experts often don’t agree on which lamps work best in particular fixtures and where those fixtures should be located.” It seems housing standards aren’t much help and it is left up to the kitchen designer or the homeowner to work it out for themselves. The article offers practical and technical advice about lighting the kitchen so you can see what you are doing, safely and conveniently. 

Lighting is of particular importance to anyone with low vision – even people who wear glasses need good light to make sure the work-space and benches are hygienic and safe. And more light isn’t always better if it produces glare.  


Home Today, Home Tomorrow Design Challenge

AARPLogo for the design challenge. Orange background with white text.* recently ran a competition to design a home renovation that was both affordable and accessible and suitable for all ages. The competition, Home Today, Home Tomorrow, aimed to do two things: to raise awareness that just one percent of homes are suited to ageing in place, and to produce a toolkit, one for professionals, and one for home owners. In the video below the architects explain how they incorporated the principles of universal design in an affordable design. The homeowners toolkit overview says, “Aging in place allows homeowners to stay in their home and community safely, independently and comfortably. To do so will require some relatively modest renovations. Explore these universal design ideas, small and large, to get inspired about accommodating all family members from young children to aging adults.”

The professional toolkit overview states, “As the U.S. population ages, architects, engineers, designers and builders can make a difference in helping families and individuals age in place. Explore these innovative universal design ideas that are aesthetically sound and provide accessibility for any age.”

*Association of American Retired Persons


DIY home renovations app

Home Mods App logo with stylised spanner looking like a person with their arms in the air.DIY (Do It Yourself) is a popular activity for home-owners especially with places like Bunnings that have everything you could possibly need to make a renovation or modification to the home. But what renovations should people think about for their later years? UNSW has come up with a free App to answer that question. Builders and building supply businesses should also find this app very useful. Indeed, anyone of any age thinking about renovations should have a look at this app before they go ahead – you also have to think about your visitors!

Outline drawing of two smartphones giving an indication of the app.It is well-established that people want to stay put in their family home where everything is familiar, but the design of the home isn’t always suitable for some of the physical aspects of ageing. With more people taking up in-home care in the later years of their lives, the home also has to be suitable for staff to assist people with activities such as cleaning and personal care. This is where home renovations come in – but what design features should homeowners and builders consider?  The App shows how to select products and how to install them in an easy step-by-step way that allows homeowners to choose the cheapest options that suit them best. 


Bathroom Renovation: A case study

Picture of an old bathroom vanity with a section of a corner bath tubThis bathroom case study comes from South Carolina. The home renovation was brought about by one of the occupants being diagnosed with ALS (Motor Neurone Disease). The update is an example of full accessibility, and shows how design and construction issues were overcome. Not all aspects will be relevant to Australia, or to universal design, as some design features, such as a ceiling track, are disability specific. Before and after pictures and a floor plan help explain what was achieved.

This online case study is featured on This Old House website. Unfortunately the website obviously relies heavily on advertising which makes for much scrolling.


Useable kitchens

View of a kitchen showing white drawers with D handles, an oven at waist height and a small breakfasr barA useable kitchen is a must and it is often the details of the design that make the difference. Once the overall working space has been thought through, the fittings become the focus. Lifemark in New Zealand has partnered with Blum kitchen products and fittings that help make any kitchen more functional regardless of level of capability to open, grasp, or carry things. Drawers instead of cupboards are now almost standard in kitchen design, but storing items logically and tidily is another matter. Lifemark’s article covers all this and more. Go to the link to see How to make your kitchen more useable.