What is MDH?



Regional rules & guides



News About Contact

Effective medium-density housing requires careful design of interior spaces.

A good design will provide appropriate size, location and orientation of living spaces within each housing unit and of housing units within the development.

The interior layout must be practical and work well for occupants given the intended use of each space and the number and age of occupants. For example, when designing a multi-storey dwelling, consider how occupants will move furniture and appliances. Can the internal stairway, corridors or lifts accommodate a queen-size or king-size bed or a large sofa?

Units with a footprint that is too small or rooms that are cramped or an awkward shape are generally less desirable than units with better proportions. Rooms with too many doors are difficult to furnish and use and can create a perceived lack of separation between spaces. Such issues have reduced the long-term value of MDH developments in the past.


It is good practice to orient dwellings and design external windows to maximise the amount of natural light available for habitable spaces, such as living rooms, lounges and bedrooms.

Arrange dwellings and the housing units within them to reduce the likelihood of unwanted shading and excessive sun glare from nearby building features, such as reflective claddings, opposing windows, roofs and surrounding structures.

Nuisance light from poorly designed security or street lighting can become problematic for occupants. When designing artificial lighting, take measures to prevent light from exterior sources leaking into interior spaces.

Also try to prevent exterior lights from creating shadowed areas or excessive glare, and never direct exterior lights upwards into the dwelling.

Carefully consider where to place exterior lights and specify lamps, fixtures and shades that minimise light spill and allow better control of the illuminated area.

In areas that require security lighting such as car parks, corridors, thoroughfares and entrances, try to create uniform lighting over the entire area with no harsh transitions between light and dark areas. Use flood lighting with caution, and limit it to transient security applications such as sensor lights.

It is common practice to enhance a feature of the site with exterior lighting. This adds to the appeal of the development, but it should not be allowed to disturb occupants. Consider placing such lighting circuits on a timer or redesigning the feature to shift the viewing angle away from the inhabited areas of the building.

Use energy-efficient and low-maintenance lighting in all cases.

Storage and utility spaces

MDH dwellings are typically more compact than traditional housing, so it is important to provide occupants with adequate storage. Storage space or lockers (for bikes, kayaks, camping gear and so on) are usually allocated to each dwelling unit but are typically located outside of the dwelling unit.

Overseas, MDH developments in dense urban environments have adopted innovative storage solutions. These include modular storage racks, raised storage bins above indoor car parks and leasable storage units that occupants can hire as their storage needs change.