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Early design decisions create communities

Health Wellbeing and Productivity By Oliver Grimaldi, Associate Director, Sustainability – 13 February 2018

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Oliver Grimaldi in suit in front of office entrance glass doors

Oliver Grimaldi

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Liv Apartments by Defence Housing Australia (DHA) in Fremantle has recently received its formal One Planet Community recognition from Bioregional. Through the Ten One Planet Principles the project not only looks to reduce its energy, water and waste consumption, it also aims to have a positive impact on the people using the building. The Liv Apartments project is designed to reduce energy, water and waste in abundance. However, key to the entire project is creating a community that encourages active, sociable, meaningful lives to promote good health and wellbeing. For example, one of the targets for the development is to ensure that the tenants get to know the names of at least five of their neighbours. So how do you design a building that will achieve this?

Have clear objectives from the start

If you want to include areas that residents meet and interact this needs to be clear from concept stage. For example, adding a communal garden later in the design stage could result in it being placed in a position of poor light or exposed to high winds, creating an area where plants will not grow, and people don’t want meet. From the very early design stages the residents’ communal needs came first and were integral to the design.

View tenants as an opportunity

In Liv Apartments, a bike retailer has signed a lease in one of the ground floor retail units. They are now in dialogue about organising communal bike rides, having workshops on fixing bikes and providing a bike rental service. This will not only be open to the residents but also the wider community, making the apartments a community hub, but also encouraging a healthy lifestyle and increasing the bike retailer’s customer base.

Use the internet

Liv Apartments with have an online hub for its residents which will be used to promote local events, community gatherings, advertising local resident services (such as pet sitting, furniture swapping etc.), to monitor energy and water consumption, and will also include recommendations for recycling and reducing waste. These create opportunities for neighbours to connect, find common interests and create communities; which is fundamental to the One Planet Framework.