Boundary treatments Print

Design Checklist

  1. The design of any street or public boundary contributes to a positive, attractive and safe public realm 
  2. The boundary treatment balances appropriate views into any adjacent public realm, while maintaining privacy for building occupant
  3. There is a defined edge between public, communal and private open space 
  4. There are defined transitions between areas within the development that have different functions or owners​
​​​​​​​Front boundary elements such as fences and walls generally separate privately owned land from the public realm, often streets.

Boundary treatment considers those elements which delineate the site boundary or which serve to differentiate between public, communal and private spaces. 
This includes planting, fences, screening devices and/ or changes in level.

Better Design Practice

The boundary treatment should add to the positive identity of the development. ​
  • Consider the choice of materials (including the ratio of solid to transparent material), and the height and depth of the boundary (the distance from the building to the edge of the street). This will need a different design response depending on the situation.​
  • The positioning, location and frequency (the vertical and horizontal rhythm) of street facing details, such as entrances, mailboxes, boundary markers and fence posts, can help the development respond to the overall context.
  • Careful fence and wall design can provide privacy and security while maintaining views, outlook, light and air.
  • Use soft landscaping and planted elements as a means of providing views and privacy along the street edge
  • Design the development’s boundary to strengthen the distinction between public and private spaces. Boundary definition may be actual or symbolic.
  • Avoid continuous and monotonous lengths of blank walls at street level.
  • Limit the length and height of retaining walls along street frontages, and locate street-facing entries so that there is a clear view from the street.
  • De​sign fences and walls with added functionality to contribute to the amenity of private or communal spaces.
  • Use planting to reduce the scale of and soften the edges of any street-facing raised terraces, such as those over sub-basement car parking.
  • Select durable materials that are easily cleaned and graffiti-resistant.

On ground floor apartments, maintain occupant privacy while allowing surveillance of communal outdoor spaces and the street.

Pedestrians in the public domain should be able to see into a front garden or privacy strip to a degree that is not intrusive. This can be achieved by:
  • ​Using a fence, wall, hedge or planting that is visually permeable enough to give passing pedestrians a sense of the private garden or terrace without a clear view into it.
  • Minimising direct sightlines by having a change in level from the street to the private garden, terrace or ground floor when the frontage is to the street edge.
  • Carefully designing the height of boundary walls to control views into a property while allowing views out.​
  • Providing a screening device, which may be adjustable, around an outdoor area rather than at the boundary.

Rules of Thumb

Generally solid fences should be below eye height. Where a high fence is required, keep the height of any solid portion below 1200mm and use a permeable fencing material on top, or make the entire fence visually permeable.

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