Australians are downsizing. High property costs and even high city living standards are encouraging Australians nationwide into giving up on the patch of grass for a high-rise or terrace house closer to the city.
However, because housing costs are so high, the needs of the buyer are changing. Affordability is beating out space time and time again, causing a change in the way architects are designing our cities.
Peter Hobbs, Communications Manager at Metro Property Development in Brisbane explains why original plans for two-bedroom developments are being scrapped and reworked in order to feature a majority of one-bedroom apartments.
‘‘Research told us the appetite for inner city apartments priced between $600,000 and $750,000 was quite subdued, with a trend towards smaller, cheaper apartments.” he says. ‘‘It comes down to more efficient use of space in terms of design and people are definitely wanting more affordable stock that can rent easily.”
In reality, the market for anything larger is unfeasible. In order to get onto the property ladder, first-time homebuyers in major cities would need to spend upwards of $500,000 for an apartment, which is simply too expensive for a majority of Australians. As more buildings are downsized, more opportunities arise for first-time homebuyers to at least get on the property ladder and upgrade as their finances allow.
However, while this move may be lucrative for both buyers and the industry – efficiency of space means a larger number of apartments can be built and sold on the one block creating more lucrative investment opportunities – it is worrying some due to the overall aesthetic changes this will have on our cities.
In response to the development of Bates Smart’s record-breaking skyscraper in Melbourne’s Southbank, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle expressed his concerns regarding Melbourne’s overall aesthetic evolution into a ‘skyscraper city.’
“The difficulty is not the architecture of the building, it is what is the culture you are creating at street level,” he says.
Aesthetically, our cities are changing. Australia is evolving into a world leader due to its strong economy and incredibly high living standards, so it only makes sense that Australian cities would evolve into fittingly world class metropolises. Catering to the needs of a society, no matter the aesthetic changes, is – and should be – a priority of a strong and responsible industry.
By Emily D’Alterio