Feature Story

Why apartment precincts are the way of the future

The buzzword in real estate is ‘precinct’ – a development that offers experiences and opportunities beyond being a place to live.

The buzzword in real estate is ‘precinct’ – a development that offers experiences and opportunities beyond being a place to live. But are precincts a fad or the future? We examine this exciting new trend in residential living.

Residential precincts are popping up in cities around the globe as mixed-use developments become the sustainable choice. Countries like Sweden and the United States have long enjoyed the greener credentials that these developments provide – and now Australia is benefiting, too, with precincts dotting our major cities and metropolitan areas.

A sustainable solution

Our urban areas face more congestion and carbon pollution as our population increases. Australia’s is predicted to expand to more than 35 million citizens by 2050 with a large percentage of these people living in our urban centres. This is expected to put a further strain on our infrastructure and public utilities that were set up to accommodate an urban density model of eight to 15 detached dwellings per hectare – a number that is largely thought to be unsustainable now.

Apartment precincts provide a more efficient model of high-to-medium density housing than stand-alone apartment blocks. Residents are closer to the transport corridors, shops and services they require, so they spend less time commuting and this reduces congestion of our public transport systems, pedestrian routes and public spaces. Less travel time means less carbon emissions, while the inclusion of green spaces beautifies our cities and provides habitats for local wildlife.

Convenience is key

Convenience is a huge drawcard for residents of apartment precincts, with proximity to shops and services a big plus for busy, time-poor urbanites. Some precincts also incorporate shared public spaces providing chill-out zones for the community. Sydney’s Surry Hills Village, for example, brings together a mix of lush green space, retail and apartment living, just a stone’s throw from sought-after cultural and recreational facilities.

The social benefit

While being able to catch the lift from your apartment door straight to a trendy restaurant, boutique shop or even a subterranean train station is an unbridled convenience, the benefits can extend far beyond that. Apartment precincts operate as social hubs, facilitating the community to eat together, socialise, share ideas and form clubs and committees to solve problems.

They can improve residents’ quality of life in other ways, too. One inspiring example is the Via Verde precinct in South Bronx, New York, that helped improve the health of a poor community suffering from high rates of asthma and obesity. The Via Verde precinct design incorporates improved cross-room ventilation and ceiling fans, as well as staircases near lifts to help fight obesity, a fitness centre and a rooftop garden.

The economic factor

According to property specialist Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo, apartment precincts help stimulate the economy. Mixed-use developments often include leasable retail spaces, creating more jobs and, subsequently, more trade between the local communities and visitors from other areas.

Click here to find out more about TOGA’s latest mixed-use precinct, Surry Hills Village.

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