Building separation and outlook Print

Design Outcome

Desi​gn Checklist

  1. There is a good standard of visual and acoustic privacy within the apartments and their private open spaces (ground floor courtyards or above-ground balconies) 
  2. The building minimises overshadowing of private or communal outdoor spaces of adjacent properties, including potential future development​​

The distance between buildings is one of the key factors in the success of any development, and in how the development is perceived from the wider environment.

Building separation also has an effect on other outcomes, including:

  • visual and acoustic privacy
  • the perception of 'building dominance' from other developments
  • extent and quality of outlook
  • admittance of sunlight and daylight
  • microclimatic performance, especially shelter from wind
  • provision of on-site open space between or behind buildings
  • support for landscape planting, especially trees.

It also helps to determine the character of an area. Higher density areas tend to comprise of buildings and dwellings that are co-joined, while lower density developments may include more freestanding buildings.

Better Design Practice

A good design requires an understanding of where the building should be placed on site. 

Massing towards the street or public open space, and a site layout that demonstrates clear ‘public fronts and private backs’ allows the development to build up to public areas. This will also maximise the amount of private open space behind the building and separation from any neighbours.

Ensure the building separation allows the admittance of sunlight and daylight, as well as providing a good standard of outlook. A wider separation distance is always better than a smaller one.

Designs should allow for sunlight onto the outdoor spaces of the majority of ground floor units during the winter solstice.

The appearance of separation on a large wide building can be achieved with generous recesses to a party wall at the street front. This situation may occur where side setbacks are an important part of streetscape character.

Taller buildings will require greater separation to achieve private amenity outcomes where windows directly face the windows of another development across the boundary.

Use building separation to achieve the best building orientation for sunlight and outlook, and consider the same for adjacent sites and open spaces.

This will require a shading analysis of neighbouring sites and an understanding of where their outdoor spaces are.  

Where areas are changing, or neighbouring sites are likely to redevelop, the design of the building should anticipate this. The correct response will depend on the site, but building along any street edge and maximizing the separation distance are always good outcomes.

Rules of Thumb

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