General characteristics Topographic map of Australia. Dark green represents the lowest elevation and dark brown the highest Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans, [N 6] Australia is separated from Asia by the Arafura and Timor seas, with the Coral Sea lying off the Queensland coast, and the Tasman Sea lying between Australia and New Zealand.
The livable and adaptable house [pdf 2. Others may conceive Australias special features a shorter stay. Whatever the intention, any new home is likely to have to accommodate changing needs over its lifetime. A livable and adaptable house is one that is able to respond effectively to these needs without requiring costly and energy intensive alterations.
Australian demographics are changing rapidly, with average households becoming both smaller and older as an increasing number of people live independently in their later years. The balance between home and work life also places altering demands on our houses as many people choose to work from home.
A single space may act at different times as a home office, a teenage retreat, a family study or a bedroom for an elderly relative. An adaptable house accommodates lifestyle changes without the need to demolish or substantially modify the existing structure and services.
An adaptable house can be designed to easily enable a large family home to be eventually divided into two smaller housing units, so residents continue living in a familiar environment.
Household needs vary over time in relation to physical capabilities. Most people can expect temporary or permanent variations in their physical capabilities in their life due to injury, illness or age. Longer life spans and higher proportions of older people in our society make it more likely that every home will be required to respond to the needs of a person with a physical limitation whether they are the primary resident or a visitor.
For those with limited mobility, reduced vision or other impairment, the ability to perform common tasks such as carrying shopping into the home, cooking a meal, using the bathroom or accessing items from high shelves may be unnecessarily limited by the physical design of a home.
As the needs of individuals are specific to their personal circumstances there is no single solution to designing a home to meet changing needs; however, several approaches exist: Livable house — designed to meet the changing needs of most home occupants throughout their lifetime without the need for specialisation.
An accessible house meets Australian Standard AS Adaptable house — adopts the idea of a livable house but in addition is able to be easily adapted to become an accessible house if the need should arise.
The intention is to simplify life for everyone by making more housing usable by more people at minimal extra cost. A livable house uses building features, fittings and products in combination to increase usability, benefiting people of all ages and abilities.
It ensures that rooms and services within the home are of a size and type usable by as many people as possible. People with limited hand function find screw-type sink taps more difficult to use than lever-type taps, which can be used by everyone.
The same applies to lever-type door handles and rocker electrical switches. Incorporating these fittings during construction reduces the need for later retrofitting. When homes are retrofitted with ramps, handrails and other devices, they can take on an institutionalised appearance.
Universal design does not propose special features for the aged or disabled but instead promotes the use of standard building products and practices to overcome access and usability problems. The guidelines were developed and endorsed by industry, community and government, and aim to improve the design and function of new homes in the mainstream and social housing market.
The guidelines detail three performance levels for livability — silver, gold and platinum — which range from basic requirements through to best practice.
A livable house does not necessarily accommodate the higher access needs of occupants who require an adaptable or accessible house. The inclusion of livable design features may reduce or eliminate the cost of retrofitting a home to improve access in the future.
The adaptable house In addition to being designed to be usable by most people, the adaptable house has provision for further modifications should they be required to meet the specific needs of a disabled occupant. Australian Standard ASAdaptable housing, provides guidance for designing houses to accommodate varying degrees of physical ability over time.
Starting from the basic premise that every house should be accessible to a visitor using a wheelchair, ASAdaptable housing, requires the house to also be adaptable for an occupant using a wheelchair. Although such a need is unlikely in every home, the standard specifies wheelchair space requirements, as circulation and access present the greatest difficulties.
By allowing enough space for wheelchairs, other equipment such as walking frames, prams and trolleys can be better accommodated. Adherence to AS may be specified in the building contract and enables housing to be certified as adaptable to one of three classes based upon the inclusion of essential and desirable features.
This avoids relying upon recollection and enables the information to be readily passed on to contractors or subsequent owners. Compliance with this standard enables a design to be certified as an adaptable house, clearly identifying and recognising its adaptable features.
Whether or not a designer is seeking certification, the certification document provides useful information. Benefits to the owner By meeting occupant needs over a greater period of time, the livable house and the adaptable house reduce the need to relocate to alternative housing, which can break community ties.
They are also attractive housing options for the greatest number of people and therefore provide a sound investment for resale and rental.
Design for adaptability enables rapid response to changing life needs which can be swift and unexpected.
Developing a design In the early stages of designing a new house or renovation, consider what type of use may be desirable and discuss your choices with your architect, designer or builder.
Is it likely that the house will be extended in the future?The flora of Australia comprises a vast assemblage of plant species estimated to over 20, vascular and 14, non-vascular plants, Prominent features of the Australian flora are adaptations to aridity and fire which include scleromorphy and serotiny.
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