Undertaken by Libby Gallagher, as director of
Gallagher Ridenour, in collaboration with director Deena Ridenour and Studio Zanardo Architects

Location: n/a
Client: NSW Department of Planning and Environment
Project dates: 2013

The Apartment Design Guide provides best practice guidance on the design of residential flat buildings. The Guide (previously The Residential Flat Design Code) has been highly influential in improving design quality for residential development in New South Wales over the decade. The Guide is the primary resource that assists councils, planners, developers and architects to improve the quality of residential flat design. In 2012 Gallagher Ridenour in collaboration with Studio Zanardo were engaged to undertake a review of the Residential Flat Design Code and to provide recommendations for improvements. The team include Urban designer Deena Ridenour, Architect Micheal Zanardo and Landscape Architect Libby Gallagher, with input from arborists, environmental engineers and building energy experts. 

The commission included consultation with local and state governments, industry and practitioners as well as quantitative research into optimum strategies for built form and landscape performance. The team undertook a detailed assessment of existing guidance related to a range of design issues including site coverage and deep soil, ventilation, daylight access, and communal open space. Context specific models were also tested, particularly scenarios including site appropriate controls for urban infill high density urban infill and suburban infill as well as urban renewal master plans. A discussion paper for consultation with local and state governments and industry was prepared and recommendations provided to update the Guide.  

Outcomes included:  

  • Improved guidance related to building layout and apartment depth to achieve good daylight access and ventilation, based on detailed simulation modelling
  • Recommended deep soil areas provisions based on a range of lot scales. This also included guidance on minimum dimensions. 
  • Improved guidance related to communal open space provisions
  • New guidance on landscape and tree replenishment