Our new blog

Our blog has moved to http://liveablecities.org.au

Please join us there as we discuss the challenges and solutions needed to develop the Liveable  and Sustainable Cities of tomorrow.


Will urbanisation break the big cities?

Currently, about 60 million people move into cities every year. That’s more than one million more people arriving every week, in a city somewhere in the world, each with an expectation of better access to jobs, better education for their children, better health-care and a better quality of life. And this trend is only increasing – in 1950 one in four people lived in cities, it is currently over two in four and in just 20 years it will be close to three in four. This is an issue weighing heavily on the minds of governments, the private sector and NGOs, and it’s an issue that that differs by geography.

Statistically we have very clear data to show that personal earnings, infant mortality and education levels all improve with increasing levels of urbanisation. Of course people sense this and they respond by relocating to the cities. On the flip side, we also know that cities can be dangerous, congested and polluted. The trick is to find ways to minimise or eliminate those negatives, while we enhance the positives.

Colin Dominish will look at the future challenges, how to broker discussions between government and private entities on where precious investment dollars should be spent. What are the options for delivering “cradle to grave” infrastructure plans with innovative approaches to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs of solving the conundrum presented by everyone wanting to live in the one spot?

Colin looks at how urbanisation won’t break big cities if solutions are adopted and implemented quickly and efficiently. The opportunity is not to contain urbanisation, but to understand how it is possible to enhance urban resilience, quality of life and economic growth in parallel.

Mr Colin Dominish, Industry Director for Communications and Utilities, Aurecon will speak at the 6th Making Cities Liveable Conference, 17th – 19th June 2013 at Novotel Melbourne St Kilda

Desegregating Urban Space in the Age of Sharing

Matt Davis

Over the course of the last 100 or so years, we have seen the systematic privatisation of urban space driven largely by architectural and urban planning practices that responded to the rise of car culture in our cities.

With the gradual realisation that this paradigm is broken, and a growing groundswell for policies that support ‘people and place’, there is a renewed sense of the value of public space.

Delivering liveable cities at a time of unprecedented urbanisation presents us with both the greatest opportunity and challenge for a sustainable, resilient and prosperous future. How can we deliver cities that are denser, greener, and smarter, while maintaining their liveability? The answer, I believe, will largely be determined by the quality of our public space.

As the density of our cities grows, the demands placed on public space will increase but at the same time its availability will be heavily constrained. How can public space be individually allocated to simultaneously serve the social, business, and mobility needs of its citizenry? It can’t. Public space must be multi-functionary, serving the many needs of many disparate groups, all at the same time.

In short, public space must, as it was originally intended, be shared. From the rise of collaborative consumption to the evolution of shared mobility systems, ‘sharing’ will underpin the liveability of our cities. The shift from privatised urban space to truly public space will require a significant cultural adjustment for many cities, particularly those with a strong ethos of self-interest, self-entitlement and ownership.

Mat will explore the cultural issues that underpin the success and failure of public space in the context of Australian cities, and contrasted against global experience. The concept of behavioural design will be introduced as an approach to designing public space that enables coexistence, by closing the gap between design intent and actual, rather than assumed, human behaviour.

Matt Davis Lecturer in Architecture, UNI of SA will present at the 6th Making Cities Liveable Conference, 17th – 19th June 2013 at Novotel Melbourne St Kilda.

Jason Roberts, Co-Founder, Better Block to speak at 2013 Liveable Cities Conference in Melbourne

Jason Roberts, Co-Founder, Better Block has been featured in the Washington Post and New York Times, and was recently awarded an American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Award. Team Better Block was showcased in the US Pavillion at the 2012 Venice Biennale (the ‘Architect’s Olympics’).

Jason has over fifteen years of experience in IT consulting and Communications. Before founding the Better Block project, Jason Roberts led multiple community non-profit organizations focused on alternative transportation including the Oak Cliff Transit Authority, and Bike Friendly Oak Cliff. In 2010, Jason spearheaded the City of Dallas’s effort in garnering a $23 Million dollar TIGER stimulus grant from the FTA to help reintroduce a modern streetcar system to the region. In the Spring of 2010, Jason organised a series of “Better Block” projects, taking blighted blocks with vacant properties in Southern Dallas and converting them into temporary walkable districts with pop-up businesses, bike lanes, cafe seating, and landscaping. The project is now being duplicated throughout the country.

You can watch Jason’s TEDx address here:

Two Conferences! Three Days! One Location in 2013

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.

The joint conference will be a platform for Government, Industry sector professionals and Academics to discuss causes, effects and solutions. Delegates will have access to an extensive range of topics with over 90 presentations across three days including Keynotes, Concurrent Sessions, Case Studies and Posters. www.healthycities.com.au

Housing Regulation – the unexpected consequences in Australia

Current affairs programs repeatedly present shows that look into defects in new and repaired housing. Many of us empathise as we have expereinced what we think are defective building work and its consequnces on the victims in terms of their wealth, their health and their families. We are surprised that with all the protections that have been introduced to ensure that when our homes and homeunits are built they are built free of defects and free of risks to our health.

What most of us are not aware of the regulation and approved insurance systems that have been developed are flawed and in many cases weighted towards the interests of the builder and the home building insurer. These changes are supported by unofficial policies of government departments with the responsibility to protect the consumer from poor industry practices.

The published policies “guide” the consumer to a accept dimensional and qualitative tolerances that are less than that recommended in Australian Standards and have been shown to provide interpretations of building regulations inconsistent with their legal meaning. Similar issues exist in the Australian Standards where for example AS2870 permits cracking in buildings due to foundation failure of up to 5mm.

Sections of the legal profession and the experts who provide expert reports to the courts and tribunals are aware of this bias and take full advantage in the interests of their building clients. As a result of both the weighting of the regulations and the skill of many advocates operating in the field the decisions of the courts and tribunals are often tainted with the bias towards the industry. Who amongst us is aware of this bias and its causes if it has not affected us? Who has found the advice that they have been given that there is little that can be done logical, fair or acceptable? Who amongst us has found themselves living in a house or apartment where there are leaks, there is mould in the ceilings, cracks in plaster and the walls……………?

This paper analyses the development of the bias and, by use of example will show the how and why present day regulation has developed a bias in favour of industry and how this bias can impact detrementally on the community both as individuals and the broader community.

Mr Peter Sarlos, Architect, Chartered Surveyor (Building), Lawyer, Australian Institute of Architects; Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors will speak at the: 5th Australian Healthy Cities: Making Cities Liveable Conference 2012 The Mercure Hotel and Conference Centre, Geelong, Victoria – 6th to the 8th of June – 2012 Secretariat Tele: (61 7) 5502 2068: http://healthycities.com.au

The Full Program – Blog – Twitter – Linkedin details available on the website

Darling quarter: A case study of Sydney’s urban renewal

As our cities grow larger, denser and more complex there is an increased demand for quality public space. Designers must work hard to reinvigorate existing places, create new networks, stimulate social activation through place making initiatives and achieve excellence in sustainable design. A successful outcome is measured as much on the activation of the public realm as the architecture which surrounds it.

This paper presents Darling Quarter as a case study for urban renewal that highlights the importance of place making and community activation in city fringe developments.

Darling Quarter is a major 1.5hectare place making project that has transformed the public domain of Darling Harbour, one of Australia’s most visited destinations. The new A$500million precinct integrates two large (total 57,000m2 NLA) campus-styled 6 Star Green Star (world leadership) commercial buildings within a public domain that comprises new city pedestrian connections a retail terrace, generous grassed community areas, a 300 seat children’s theatre and an innovative playground as its centre piece. The spectacular world-class 4,000sqm playground is one of the largest illuminated playgrounds in the country and a regional attractor to the city. The playground is one of Australia’s largest play areas that integrates interactive water play in an urban landscaped environment.

The precinct is activated by over 6,500 workers in the new commercial buildings and the millions of families and tourists, who come to the playground, children’s theatre, picnic on the community green or dine at the bustling retail terrace. The development has tailored the community offerings to ensure the precinct is well activated around the clock.

This project prompted a shift in thinking about the importance of public domain in the re-vitalisation of the western edge of the Sydney CBD. Darling Quarter has set a new benchmark for both Sydney’s public domain and commercial architecture. The project exemplifies design excellence, leading sustainable design initiatives to create an inclusive, free, public space activated by the community day and night.

Rod McCoy (NSW)
Executive Project Manager, Lend Lease

5th Healthy Cities: Making Cities Liveable Conference 2012
The Mercure Hotel and Conference Centre,  Geelong, Victoria – 6th to the 8th of June – 2012
URL: www.healthycities.com.au

Sea Changes: the role of public art and the expression of creativity, identity and sense of place in a healthy city

Beth Jackson the Public Art Curator with Brecknock Consulting will explore the role of public art within urban renewal projects and its capacity to achieve the expression of a sense of place, local identity and creative community.

Beth will question and consider the inter-relationship between health and creativity and between a sense of wellbeing and a sense of place, for both individuals and communities.

Her paper will provide a case study of the curation and delivery of a public art program as part of the Redcliffe Seaside Village Rejuvenation project in South East Queensland from 2010-2011. While typical of many coastal renewal projects, the Redcliffe site has rich and complex layers of significance, including historical significance for European and Indigenous peoples, environmental significance for its relationship to Moreton Bay, and social significance for a growing contemporary and diverse community.

The project has delivered an attractive and unique destination experience for locals and visitors alike with the public art program playing a key role. While the major improvement works to streetscaping and landscaping comprised this outcome, it is the shift in social perception which achieves the real sea change and sense of urban renewal. Public art can not only value-add to the public space asset and amenity but can catalyse these perceptual shifts, evoking cultural significance.

The case study will detail what is involved in public art curation and in the creative and site-specific interpretation of place by artists. The paper will argue that the creative and tangible expression of place stories, symbols and artistic icons helps to build social and creative capital, regional identity, and a distinctive sense of place which in turn lead to community wellbeing and a healthy city. Beth will aim to draw implications from the study for notions of sustainability, sustainable development, and the provision of public space.

Beth Jackson, Public Art Curator, Brecknock Consulting

The 5th Healthy Cities: Working Together to Achieve Liveable Cities Conference
The Mercure Hotel and Conference Centre, Geelong, Victoria – 6th to the 8th of June – 2012

The conference will be a platform for Government and Industry sector professionals to discuss causes, effects and solutions that relate to population health, sustainability, natural resource management, transport, climate change, urban design and more.