The project examines the interplay between apartment design policy, design outcomes, and residents’ health and wellbeing outcomes in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

  • Project dates: 2017

The HIGH LIFE Study

Australia’s urban landscape has seen a shift towards apartment construction, with apartments now accounting for a third of all new residential building approvals in Australia.  This construction boom has given rise to concerns about the quality, amenity and future versatility of apartment stock, with reports of micro apartments, windowless rooms and poor access to sunlight and air.  Which raises the question – are apartment residents in Australia really living the high life?

Apartment design guidance differs across Australia in its detail, the specificity of requirements, and regulatory basis, with many states providing limited guidance. Could these policies influence the quality of the housing provided, and the health and wellbeing of residents?  The HIGH LIFE Study has been set up to test whether specific apartment design features, and ‘the dose’ of these features, could impact residents’ health and wellbeing.  It aims to provide the policy-specific health evidence needed to help create healthy higher density environments for future generations of apartment dwellers.

What are we doing?

The HIGH LIFE Study is collecting information on apartments constructed in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney in the last 10 years.  Apartments in these cities have been developed with different levels of policy guidance.  Within each city, apartment residents in diverse neighbourhoods will be surveyed, and objective measures of apartment design and wider neighbourhood characteristics (such as access to shops, services, transport and parks) will be created.  We are aiming to collect data on about 300 people, living in 30 different buildings in each city. Data will be used to examine the impact of different apartment design features, as well as the location of the apartment building, on residents’ health and wellbeing.

To be a part of The HIGH LIFE…

If your apartment was randomly selected to be a part of The HIGH LIFE Study, you will receive a letter from us inviting you to fill out a survey about your apartment, and health and wellbeing. The survey will take about 25 minutes to complete.  All answers will be strictly confidential.  We do not need your name or any identifying details.  Your invitation will have included an ID number that must be entered when you take the survey.  We cannot do this research without the support of people living in apartments, so your help is greatly appreciated.

Project funders and partners

The HIGH LIFE Study is funded by the Australian Research Council (DE160100140), and supported by RMIT University and The University of Western Australia. We have ethics approval from The University of Western Australia (Ref: RA/4/1/8735).

Key People

Lead researchers

Dr Sarah Foster

Dr Sarah Foster

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellowship

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The High Life: Could apartment design policy improve residents’ health and wellbeing?

Dr Paula Hooper

Research Fellow

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The High Life: Could apartment design policy improve residents’ health and wellbeing?

Clover Maitland

Study Coordinator

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Alexandra Kleeman

Alexandra Kleeman

PhD Candidate

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