The Garden of Villages – a new approach to Regional Development in Peri Urban Areas

Tomato (Tamatar)Garden of Villages™ is an integrated system that delivers sustainable regional development. It is a leading innovative and wholistic approach to tackling the issues of food and water security – a paradigm shift in the way that village and farm development is integrated, facilitated by new funding structures, advanced training programs, and the application of clean technologies to farming methods.

We take the seeds of the world’s best master planned sustainable cities and cross them with our experience in rural towns, and with developing and operating intensive sustainable farms. The resulting vigorous hybrid is the Garden of Villages™. Integration of food, living centres, energy production, industry, water capture and recycling establishes new paradigms. Garden of Villages™ has been designed to transition regional and rural areas close to growing cities into vibrant, secure food growing, processing and distribution centres.

These village scaled “food baskets” protect and enhance land of high agricultural value, produce high quality clean fresh food, catch rainfall and reuse water after appropriate treatment, generate energy from solar and gas sources, are hubs for light food processing and preparation of food for market that minimises waste in rapidly growing cities, and provide quality employment in regions. We are building our first Garden of Villages™ in the Mary Valley, Queensland. We have support of universities and we are identifying master farmers and supporting technology businesses to participate.

The project has earned recognition and support of local, state and federal government. Over time we will help create a global network of sustainable productive family based farms and villages producing and securing food, water, energy and homes for millions while managing waste efficiently and effectively.

Dr Julian Bolleter, Assistant Professor, Australian Urban Design Research Centre will speak at the Making Cities Liveable Conference, 17th – 19th June 2013 at Novotel Melbourne St Kilda


Build it and they will walk: the suburbs that foster good health

Jason Dowling  |  City Editor for The Age

If you design suburbs so walking to public transport, shops and parks is an easy option, people will walk – that is the simple and clear finding of long-term Australian research.

urban sprawl

Health and planning experts are urging governments to make health a feature of planning laws and city growth strategies.

Researchers monitored the amount of walking by more than 1400 people building homes in new developments in Perth. Readings were taken before moving in and about 12 months later.

The results, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, showed transport-related walking declined and recreational walking increased.

Read the full story here

LIVEABLE- “Evolving the density models to address our growing pains”

Like it or not, our population is growing, and the decision makers of society continue to wrestle with the dilemma of accommodating the dreams of this next wave of new home owners. However cracks are starting to appear in the bricks and mortar as society leans on the comfort of conventional housing models.

Beneath suburban utopia’s veneer lie some dark ills that are of grave concern to the social planners and urban designers.  Family violence, youth suicide and mortgage stress have been directly linked with sprawl, and it is evident that the dream is actually unliveable.  Typically attention is turned to the opportunities of densification, however the majority of successful and vibrant higher density models tend to be CBD and inner suburban contexts, with a significantly different demographic profile and a paradigm that is receptive to alternate housing and living models.

This paper aims to better understand the impacts of urban consolidation on liveability by finding common ground between the inner Melbourne and outer suburban Casey contexts, and then articulating where the differences lie, what definitions need to be reconsidered, and how this needs to be physically manifested in the outer model. The study includes an assessment of the raft of benefits of alternate models, which extend far beyond basic higher yields, reaching into the viability of our transit networks, the efficacy of our efforts towards a sustainable city, and the physical and emotional health of our community.

Growth can be in harmony with liveability, and this has a clear built form outcome. Invariably the solutions lie not simply in built form, but in a more foundational shift in the psyche of our society. While not all questions can be answered, the paper seeks to sharpen the dialogue, elucidate the opportunities and pave the first steps for a liveable society.

Nathan Islip, Team Leader – Urban Design, City of Casey will speak at… the 6th Making Cities Liveable Conference, in conjunction with the Sustainable Transformation Conference, is being held from the 17th – 19th June 2013 at Novotel Melbourne St Kilda. The collaboration brings together National, State and Regional delegates to explore, exchange ideas and network.

Two Conferences! Three Days! 90 Presenters! One Location in 2013Healthy

Monumentalism versus Organic growth in Christchurch, is there a solution to allow both?

Devastation in Christchurch has resulted in the central business district being the hole in an urban donut.  To fix the centre we have on the one hand the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) who have devised an anchor-project plan to re-energise and provide confidence to developers for the central city.

On the other, there is an agile and creative urban regeneration think tank called Studio Christchurch who are a ‘not for profit’ academic based organisation whose outcomes are about shaping the urban form by involving the arts, creative architects, engineers and the community to regenerate and stimulate a vibrant Christchurch.  CERA’s anchor projects are key civic, recreational and community focused developments with lots of public realm focus on the natural asset of the river Avon. Studio Christchurch are taking a bird’s eye view of how the city is reacting, emerging trends in energy and power, tourism, environmental effects, migration of offices, the supporting land uses to office developments, residential shifts and changes in land prices based on accessibility, infrastructure and financial opportunities.

Although complimentary there appears to be two methods to assisting the recovery of Christchurch which provides an interesting study about dictating and planning the urban landscape and letting it grow organically. Time will tell if we can build around the CERA anchor projects land use plan and facilitate good transport links whilst allowing developers to surround and infill between the anchor projects.  There does appear on the surface to be tension between a long term land use plan and what is needed over time to assist in rebuild and recover. In this presentation, Shaun will explore these initiatives further and discuss how dynamic zoning, that’s reflective and sensitive of time, may be a solution.

Shaun Hardcatle, Auercon, Christchurch NZ will speak at… the 6th Making Cities Liveable Conference, in conjunction with the Sustainable Transformation Conference, is being held from the 17th – 19th June 2013 at Novotel Melbourne St Kilda. The collaboration brings together National, State and Regional delegates to explore, exchange ideas and network.

Two Conferences! Three Days! 90 Presenters! One Location in 2013

Green infrastructure thinking – a lifeline and values system for ‘liveable’ cities

Landscape architecture/Paris

Landscape architecture

Governments ‘value’ personal and environmental health but debate the level and priority of their provision. ‘The Market’ cannot make these decisions as our economies built on trading cannot deal with these often intangible elements unless they can be a priced. The risks of non-provision remain unassessed. In this paper a landscape architect reflects on this thought against a back-drop of personal experience in the context of the last 20 years of planning, design and construction of new urban areas between Geelong and Melbourne, some of the most rapidly developed areas in Australia.

This period of valuing liveability began with the ‘Rio Earth Summit’ and the Australian Government’s ‘Building Better Cities’ initiative: it closes with the UN ‘Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ and the Australian Government’s ‘Urban Design Protocol’. Lessons learned and opportunities lost are extrapolated into the future promised by the conference themes of ‘health’, ‘working together’ and ‘liveable cities’, a future in which hitherto abstract environmental and cultural values will be translated into dollar values on our national balance sheets.

There has indeed been a reawakening to the truth that the health of our communities remains firmly tethered to the networked environmental and cultural qualities that support them. The UN calculates that an annual outlay of $45bn on environmental conservation will yield $4tr to $5tr annual benefits.  Multi-disciplinary collaborations have provided city building solutions of unquestioned and measurable value.

However, our governance systems are ill-equipped to promote, measure and integrate the simultaneously realised values of mental and physical health, water quality, habitat, carbon, climate change adaptation and others. Pioneer governments are turning to the concept of Green Infrastructure thinking – to what extent does it provide the 21 st Century with the framework of thinking to redress problems and confront the complexity of measuring and managing these often obscure yet essential values?

You can download the full paper presented by Robert P Cooper Senior Principal, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design at CPG Australia Pty Ltd… here

Paper presented at the Australian Liveable Cities Conference


The relationship between public health, built urban forms and transportation options in Australia is increasingly becoming a focus of research.

The presenation will provide a review discussing possible health indicators to be used in assessing future land use and transportation scenarios under differing climate change situations.

Urban form characteristics, such as density levels and mixed land uses are identified. These characteristics can be measured to determine the health impacts related to the transport choices they provide. The health benefits, and subsequent economic benefits particularly from health-related productivity, of walkable, transit orientated urban forms are well established and are measurable. Important health indicators include vehicle miles travelled, access to public transport, access to green areas, transportation related pollution levels, transportation related noise levels, density and mixed land use.

A comparison between a high walkability urban environment and a low walkability urban environment identifies various infrastructure, transportation greenhouse gas emissions and health costs. From this it is determined that infrastructure and transport costs dominate.

Greenhouse gas emission costs are small unless the social costs are considered, and then they become substantial but still lower than the infrastructure and transport costs. They are cumulative however and will become more important in future. The health costs are very small if considered to be those related to sickness however health-related productivity gains that are associated with highly walkable urban areas are substantial. Increased productivity considerably outweighs the savings of increased physical activity and reduced health cost reductions from active travel alone. Furthermore these productivity gains are additive to the other costs and together all of these costs provide a powerful economic rationale for developing urban forms geared towards active travel.

Dr Anne Matan, Dr Roman Trubka, Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute WA

The 5th Healthy Cities: Working Together to Achieve Liveable Cities Conference – June 6th to 8th – Geelong, Victoria

Top Ten Characteristics of a Healthy City

English: Photo By Myke Waddy, Sept 5th 2006. H...

Image via Wikipedia

1. Fixed transit, preferably rail, above and below ground. Subways along all major travel corridors; buses or trams on all secondary corridors
Fixed-rail transit helps to guide development and keep the streets busy. When development happens around fixed-transit, it is easy to get around on foot because everything is closer together. On the contrary, when transit isn’t fixed, as with a diesel bus route, or it is designed around the auto, transit becomes impractical because everything is further apart. New York is an example of a walking city that grew up around fixed transit. Dallas is an example of an auto city built up around roadways. It is very convenient to get around without a car in a walking city built around fixed transit. This makes it so there are more people on the sidewalks, and businesses can thrive from walking traffic, without the need for parking. Fixed-transit can be light-rail, a subway, or a bus that operates from overhead wires. A busway built for diesel buses is also fixed transit, but because the bus can leave the busway it doesn’t have the same positive impact on development and density as other forms of fixed transit. If your city doesn’t have fixed-transit, advocate for it. It will take a long time to change the way things are built, but a convenient walking district can spring up in little time when fixed transit and high density are established in an area.

See the full list here: Top Ten Characteristic of a Healthy City.