Apartment space Print

Design Outcome


Design Checklist

  1. The apartments are functional, well organised and have enough space to meet the needs of the intended number of occupants
  2. The layout is flexible and adaptable and allows for a variety of household activities
Adequate space is the basis for good apartment design. Well-sized apartments will enable greater flexibility and adaptability for their occupiers throughout their lifetimes, and thus support the widest range of lifestyles and lifestages for those that own and live-in them. 

Buildings and neighbourhoods that provide only small apartments limit their market to a very narrow range of potential buyers and investors.  Smaller apartments tend to be attractive to younger residents, who move on with job commitments, or as they evolve into a family,  which creates transient buildings and neighbourhoods. 

Such 'mono-cultural' developments  are less resilient to change, and do not grow their value as strongly as buildings and neighbourhoods that support a diversity of residents throughout their life stages.  Click here for further guidance on how Universal Design can also enable these outcomes.

Better Design Practice

Ensure the spatial arrangements of habitable rooms are informed by the intended number of occupants and possible furniture layouts.

Provide an 'easy-live' environment for occupants, with sufficient space to cater for adaptability and changes in family circumstances over time.

Allow for a variety of household activities and occupants' needs by considering requirements for individual rooms.

Provide spaces for social gathering (both indoors and outdoors) as well as space for privacy and quiet.

Consider providing offices, studies, en-suites and utility rooms. These are a commercial decision and will require additional floor area beyond the minimums discussed here.​​


All bedrooms should have an external window.

​​Bedrooms should be designed so that two people per bedroom (and two people for a studio), apartment fittings and furniture can all be accommodated comfortably.

​​Bedrooms should be large enough for at least a Queen size bed with circulation on both sides of the bed. A well designed bedroom will also allow for a wide range of other activities - studying, reading and for children to play.​​


Apartments tend to combine dining, kitchen and living areas into open-plan layouts, and this is often considered desirable by occupants.

However where apartments are being designed for specific cultural needs it may be preferable to separate the kitchen from the living and dining rooms, or other combinations.

This guidance combines the areas required for living rooms and dining rooms (which are usually located adjacent to kitchens),  to allow freedom to plan these spaces in different ways.
A key design outcome is to ensure that the target occupancy level (two people per bedroom), apartment fittings and furniture can all be accommodated comfortably, so that the occupants can carry out normal daily activities in a convenient and relaxed manner.

If the principal living room within a dwelling has a 3m minimum for any dimension excluding cupboards and other storage space, the effect of circulation across the living space, as well as the intended number of occupants (and/or bedrooms) should be taken into account:

Additonal space may be required to make circulation around the area more comfortable.​

It is preferable that access to bedrooms and bathrooms does not cross the living spaces, but is around the edges of the sitting spaces.

All living spaces should have external windows, and the windows in living areas should be a minimum 800 to 1000mm (glazing height to maximum sill height) above floor level to maintain views out while seated.

Living spaces should also provide for:

  • A wide screen television, including cable routing for future satellite dish and UHF aerial.
  • Multiple power points for accommodating appliances and computers.​
  • A wall mounted or free standing heater or mechanical heating and cooling.

Dining Rooms

Access around a dining table should be a minimum 600-700mm where the space adjoins a bench or other furniture.

Increased circulation space may contribute to greater comfort if the table is not accessible from both ends or if the space is bounded by walls, rather than adjacent open living space.​


Kitchen and cooking space, fittings and furniture should be provided in each apartment so that two people can circulate safely and carry out activities hygienically and conveniently

Kitchens should have 1.2m access space in front of the base kitchen units. This can overlap with circulation space provided for living/dining areas and be reduced to 700mm (i.e. overlap by 500mm)

Rules of Thumb

Bedroom layout should provide for the following as a minimum:

- a bed space 2m long by 1.6m (minimum) wide, or - two bed spaces side-by-side 2m long by 900mm wide.​

Bedroom layout should provide a wardrobe with a minimum dimension of 2m long x 0.6m deep with adequate access space in front

(e.g. taking clothes from a wardrobe drawer or chest of drawers requires a space of 710 - 990mm).​

Bedroom layouts should provide for a desk / study or dressing table space of at least 800mm wide by 500mm deep with 500mm width access space in front. An access space from the entry door to the foot of the bed no less than 800mm wide.

Note: Access space requirements for different elements in bedroom spaces may overlap.​

A bed space should be available at the entry level of a multi-level apartment.

Convenient wheelchair access should be available between a main bedroom and the bathroom.

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