New Zealand Apartment Living: Developing a Liveability Evaluation Index
Over the past decade there has been a major shift in the housing preferences of New Zealanders away from low density, suburban, stand-alone housing towards higher density, urban apartments. As more people experience this style of accommodation, liveability issues have become apparent. An international literature review has found a gap between the research-based academic knowledge and the expectations of prospective occupants as represented by the national, popular press. For occupants their crucial issues are readily assessable (e.g. spatial and visual design), but often these issues do not have direct or long term health effects. The academic literature minimises these issues while placing importance on health and liveability issues (e.g. thermal and acoustic environments). This thesis presents the development of an assessment methodology to enable prospective buyers/tenants to easily and quickly evaluate and compare apartment liveability over a wide range of indicators, not just those of immediate concern. The New Zealand Apartment Liveability Index [NZ ALI] considers over 100 factors that influence liveability in higher density housing and presents this information in a simple, easily understandable format. The indicators have been organised into a weighted hierarchal system divided into five main categories: Community; Configuration; Governance; Indoor Environmental Quality; and Quality. There are 332 components within the New Zealand Apartment Liveability Index and all are weighted in order to provide a simple Liveability Rating (single score) or Liveability Profile (performance profile). Six criteria were applied in the development of the New Zealand Apartment Liveability Index to ensure that it is fit for purpose. The development criteria considered relevancy to liveability, objectivity & practicality of assessments, accuracy of evaluations, and generality & user friendliness of the tool. The New Zealand Apartment Liveability Index is intended to provide the public with a simple, easy to use tool to help them make informed decisions when purchasing or leasing apartments. It will also be of value to regulatory agencies to help better understand the minimum liveability standards for apartments, as well as to designers and developers to help them better meet the needs of their current clients and future building users.