This issue focuses on multi-residential design, which is quite fortuitous considering the latest data released by the ABS.

According to the 2016 census, 42.1 percent of all dwellings in Greater Sydney are now classified as being either medium-or high-density. 

This includes everything from flats, apartments, townhouses, semi-detached and terrace houses and even villas. That figure is up from 38.6 percent from the 2011 census, and if this trend continues, sometime in the next decade the number of medium-or high-density dwellings will surpass the 50 percent mark.

Put further into perspective, Sydney has added 64,300 multi-residential spaces between the two censuses.

About 70 percent of all the dwellings constructed last year across Sydney were either medium-or high-density. 

This trend is hardly new or uniquely Australian. We have seen it in Europe, North America, and of course, it is most commonly associated with Asia.

At the same time, as this trend continues, it will add a range of challenges for architects, developers and legislators.

It will be architects who will be on the front lines ensuring dwellings are not only designed well, but also that the increasing volume of multi-residential developments maintain the standards of sustainability in the built environment.

Looking at sustainability deeper, the next set of standards that the industry will have to face–known as the Living World Challenge–come with descriptions like ‘systemic’, ‘meticulous’ and ‘comprehensive’.

Much like modern-day engineering standards, the Living World Challenge has been designed as a thorough way of accurately and precisely measuring everything involved in the whole system— including its entire supply chain.

As head judge for the 2017 Sustainability Awards, Dick Clarke told me recently, “The Living World Challenge is much more rigorous than the Green Star standards - it’s a bit like Green Star on steroids.”

As Clarke says, “Australia has been quite shy to date when it comes to that level of rigour.
“While it’s going to be a good thing, with the Living World Challenge and passive house, you can’t relax.

“It will affect the entire supply chain. For example, materials, suppliers will have to supply comprehensive information and thoroughly document all their suppliers, processes and products,” he says.

As the multi-residential sector continues to expand, it will be interesting to watch how vertical design and sustainability interact, and how the introduction of new standards will change the industry.