Building height and massing Print

Desi​gn Checklist​​

  1. ​The height and massing of the apartment development contribute to a built form of a high standard that is designed to respond to its context​

​​​​Building Height ​


The height of a building in relation to its overall configuration or massing is one of the more significant factors in determining the impact a building will have on its surrounding environment.

From a design perspective, it is important to ensure that height and massing are considered together to arrive at a high quality, well proportioned building form.

When deciding on building height consider:
  • the permitted maximum height
  • the local area character and the building's position within the town or city context
  • the immediate streetscape character, particularly consistency of skyline and the need for punctuation and accent;
  • local street views, strategic views and amenity views
  • the potential effect of overshadowing adjacent public space and neighbouring properties
  • local micro-climatic factors, particularly wind
  • the relationship of height to frontage width and building depth
  • the configuration of any taller elements in relation to street edge and ground level. A podium may be used in conjunction with a taller element to ensure consistency at ground.


Building massing


Building massing refers to the overall configuration of the building.

The way a building is arranged on its site is particularly important for larger buildings. The following should be considered in relation to building massing:

  • site size, geometry, topography and configuration in relation to adjacent streets or open space. Think about the orientation of the principal mass of the building
  • dividing a large form into several linked smaller forms to minimize visual impact
  • organising the building's mass to express different vertical elements (e.g. a 'base' and a 'top')
  • using horizontal emphasis on a tall building and vertical emphasis on wide buildings to balance the overall size
  • breaking down the mass of the building by:
    • recessing and projecting elements to avoid flat monotonous facades
    • set backs to upper levels to achieve an appropriate height-to-width ratio across the street and encourage sunlight into the street or open space
    • expressing different internal functions such as vertical circulation or entry
    • expressing individual apartments to achieve identity and personalisation.

  • the relation of the front façade and skyline to the street edge, to achieve a consistent streetscape
  • using roof form to create visual interest.

For larger buildings
  • avoid significant and visually jarring contrast between the scale of the proposed apartment building and any adjacent buildings.  Set back, step or provide transitional volumes where necessary.
  • use transitional volumes to help integrate a development where the adjacent built environment is of a lesser scale.
  • where the building is at the street edge, set back the upper floors or use a podium to prevent visual dominance at the street edge
  • divide the overall massing to avoid or break up overly large forms. Where appropriate, a large building should be able to be read as a series of discrete forms. This reduces visual dominance, creates interest and may help users to understand how the building is occupied.
  • create variation along the façade of long buildings, potentially stepping volumes forwards or backwards, to create visual rhythm and interest
  • placing tall buildings on podium structures, to help maintain a continuous, positive street edge.

The design of taller and larger buildings should maximise access to daylight and sunlight for the apartments and outdoor spaces.

Large, tall buildings typically become landmarks in their environments. These visually conspicuous developments should be designed to a high architectural standard and possess a "landmark quality". Where the building form is tall and slim its architecture should possess a quality of elegance.

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