The Residential Design Codes explained – one piece at a time.

Issue 1: R-Codes Clause 5.2.3 – Street Surveillance – C3.1

This provision, one of three ‘deemed-to-comply’ provisions listed, states the following:

C3.1  – The street elevation(s) of the dwelling to address the street with clearly definable entry points visible and accessed from the street.

You may be thinking – what does having a visible entrance to a dwelling have to do with surveillance of the street? Is this not what windows are for?

While the remaining provisions do indeed specify the requirement for at least one major opening from a habitable room to face the street or approach to the dwelling, having a noticeable entry point is no less important. If windows are said to be the eyes of a building, then you can consider the main entrance to be the mouth.

Firstly, if the main pedestrian entrance is not obvious upon view from the public realm, it makes it difficult for visitors (including postal workers delivering your precious parcels!) to find the entrance. Secondly, it contradicts some of the criteria of the Western Australian Planning Commission’s (WAPC) Designing Out Crime Planning Guidelines (DOCPG). DOCPG identifies and discusses a number of ways to discourage opportunities for crime through urban design. DOCPG Clause 5.2 – Urban Structure, is one of the many provisions within the document that outlines design criteria which can be addressed to discourage crime. Some of the criteria in respect to DOCPG Clause 5.2 – Urban Structure are listed as follows:

“…

  • Define ownership and use of space
  • Avoid ambiguous space and connections
  • Promote legibility and orientation
  • Buildings should be oriented towards the main street frontage and other areas of public realm
  • Avoid the establishment of small, unusable pockets of land and open space as they are difficult to maintain and do not facilitate recreation

  • Avoid routes which can become entrapment spots
  • Maximise legibility, sightlines and comfort to encourage use
  • …”

(DOCPG, 2006, 27)

A readily definable entry point reduces the potential for entrapment, and people lurking around corners, out of site from both residents and neighbours across the street. It also helps to remove ambiguity between what spaces are public and private in nature, while also facilitating a predictable and direct passage between these two realms. This is reflected upon in DOCPG, which states in relation to its Clause 5.2 – Urban Structure, that:

“A well designed environment is one that fulfils all its intended functions. An attractive environment has evolved or has been successfully designed to meet the need of its legitimate users, providing safe and convenient means of access, opportunities for social interaction and recreational needs. The greater the legitimate use, the less the attraction for illegitimate users.” (DOCPG, 2006, 26)

There are multiple ways in which the main entrance can be defined. Asides from having a feature door facing the street, other design elements such as porticos, projecting architectural features, contrasting renders and materials, footpaths, and even standalone arches could make the entry more obvious, and remove ambiguity into the ownership and use of the nearby open space.

Now that you’ve finished reading about this article on entrances, feel free to enter a discussion with us about any planning matters you would like assistance with. Our door is always open!