Exploring the design, quality and use of communal areas in apartment developments

Alexandra Kleeman, Billie Giles-Corti, Lucy Gunn, Paula Hooper, Sarah Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Population growth and urbanisation are contributing to the densification of cities globally, including a proliferation of apartment developments. While many developments include shared spaces and facilities, little is known about their design, quality or use. Using a novel desktop audit approach, we objectively identified communal area design features and examined their association with residents’ use of communal areas in apartment developments (n = 113) across Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. For residents with outdoor areas (n = 1039), use was associated with ten features, including greenery, pools and seating. For residents with indoor areas (n = 283), use was associated with four features, including a ‘green’ outlook and ground floor location. Features were combined into quality scores, where each unit increase was associated with greater odds of outdoor (OR = 1.37, 95% CI = 1.28–1.47) and indoor (OR = 1.91, 95% CI = 1.52–2.42) area use. These results suggest that the delivery of high-quality communal areas can encourage use, which in turn, may have implications for residents’ social opportunities and outcomes. The findings also have policy and design implications, suggesting that the provision of communal space alone may not be enough to encourage use without the design features or amenities that appeal to residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-494
Number of pages15
JournalCities and Health
Issue number3
Early online date6 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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