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About communal open space

Communal open space is an area within a private site providing for informal recreation activities for common use by building occupants and, in some cases, visitors.

Communal open space is often incorporated into:

  • higher density residential developments
  • education facilities
  • supported residential facilities
  • health care facilities and hospitals
  • commercial buildings.

They can include roof terraces, courtyards, contemplation gardens, atriums, walled gardens, playgrounds, play spaces and dog gardens.

Communal open space may comprise paved areas, grass, gardens, shelters and seating. Depending on the intended user, it may also include pools, garden plots and barbecues.

Why is it important?

Access to well-designed communal open space is important for the wellbeing of building occupants, especially residents of higher density residential buildings.

Communal open space provides opportunities for relaxation, socialising and to enjoy outdoors. Communal open space can also support natural systems and habitat.

3.4.1: ensure communal open space is accessible and functional

Communal open spaces need to be of an adequate size and in an accessible location to enable building occupants to use them. Remote, small or uncomfortable spaces are rarely used, and may become neglected or unsafe.

  1. Locate communal open space to be convenient and accessible to building occupants.
  2. Provide communal open space of a size that accommodates a wide range of activities and uses appropriate for the building occupants.
  3. Lay out communal open space to create informal surveillance opportunities within the space and from adjacent buildings.

    Tip: dwellings that have an outlook toward communal open space provides opportunities for informal surveillance of the space. This arrangement should, however, maintain the privacy and security of residents in their homes.

  4. Design communal open space to be usable in a range of weather conditions and at all times of the year.

    Tip: when designing communal open space, take into account orientation of the space for optimum winter solar access and summer shading, shelter from wind and rain and providing all-weather ground surface materials.

3.4.2: support a safe and enjoyable communal open space for its intended users

  1. Include a place where adults and children can gather and socialise.

    Tip: in higher density residential buildings, simple solutions can attract greater use. Arranging tables and seating can encourage informal gatherings while people watch their children play.

  2. Provide seats and tables to cater for large gatherings of people.

    Tip: a large table can accommodate resident gatherings and support social engagement.

  3. Provide lighting in communal open space to support safe movement and evening use.

    Tip: avoid light spill to adjacent sensitive uses.

  4. Provide landscape areas with sufficient space and soil volume for trees to grow.
  5. Incorporate containers for trees and shrubs where free ground with sufficient soil volume is not available.

    Tip: opportunities for planting may be limited on balconies and roof gardens and over underground structures such as car parks.

3.4.3: ensure the communal open space protects the amenity for adjacent sensitive uses

  1. Locate facilities such as driveways, foyers and barbecue areas to minimise noise, fumes and lighting impacts into sensitive uses in adjacent properties.

3.4.4: ensure communal open spaces are well maintained

  1. Establish a regular maintenance program for communal open space.

Page last updated: 09/06/23