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.

Advertisements

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

Jason Corburn’s Keynote Address at The International Conference of Urban Health in 2010

Jason is Associate Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. He also co-directs UC Berkeley’s joint Masters in City Planning/Masters in Public Health degree program.

He is the author of “Towards the Healthy City”.

Jason Corburn at the ICUH 2010 from The New York Academy of Medicine on Vimeo.

2011 Healthy Cities Conference a Success

This year’s Healthy Cities Conference in Noosa had over 70 presenters, who contributed to a range of session streams including,

– Physical Environments in our Cities and Neighbourhoods
– Green Principles – Green Design. The Future of Viable Healthy Cities
– Healthy People – Healthy Places
– Disaster Management – The Impacts on Population Health

During the closing forum delegates were asked to raise, with a panel of keynotes the major issues affecting healthy cities.  The 2012 Conference in Geelong will follow up some of the excellent contributions by the delegates in the forum.

Robert Prestipino the Directoror Vital Places spoke about “Local Ecommerce and Sustainable Towns – Will our Regional towns and communities be saved by digital highways?

Robert said “The evidence is clear. Regional identity and lifestyle is in decline. This decline has been long term and gradual. The issue is what are we going to do about it? Decades of concern and initiatives have done little to strengthen the future prosperity of regional communities. To turn things around and deliver the community’s aspirations for the future of their children and grandchildren will clearly require a new approach.”

He discussed how we create great regions to live, work and play… places of opportunity & lifestyle?

Matt Coetzee the Development Manager of Community Development with Aurecon discussed Australia’s sequence of extreme weather events. Cyclone Yasi and the floods of December 2010 / January 2011 saw more than 75% of Queensland officially declared a disaster zone. The impact on infrastructure and homes was devastating but the scale of the tragedy became that much more apparent as news of human fatalities was relayed by Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh.

Matt said “Sustainable urban development is a useful concept in considering opportunities to alleviate the impact of extreme weather events, and extreme floods in particular. Sustainable urban development provides a framework focused on creating urban communities where both the current and future needs of residents are met. There are two important principles—resilience and connectivity—that underpin sustainable urban development.

By defining the risks associated with potential extreme events and translating those risks into planning and design solutions urban planners attempt to increase an urban feature’s capacity to absorb change. This capacity, otherwise known as its resilience, allows it to persist in the face of the change and thereby improves its sustainability”.

The positive delegate feedback was overwhelming. Lisa Wood, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Centre for the Built Environment and Health, School of Population Health said “A good mix of speakers, topics and participants overall. Indeed the diversity of participants greatly contributed to the informal sharing and learning that went on outside of sessions and it was good to see the intermingling of varied sectors and fields.”

The 2012 Conference will be in Geelong, Victoria from the 6th – 8th June 2012. Call for papers will open on the conference website soon, www.healthcities.com.au

Responding To Extreme Weather Events

Australia, particularly Queensland, has recently been struck by a sequence of extreme weather events. Cyclone Yasi and the floods of December 2010 / January 2011 saw more than 75% of Queensland officially declared a disaster zone. The impact on infrastructure and homes was devastating but the scale of the tragedy became that much more apparent as news of human fatalities was relayed by Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh.

Sustainable urban development is a useful concept in considering opportunities to alleviate the impact of extreme weather events, and extreme floods in particular. Sustainable urban development provides a framework focused on creating urban communities where both the current and future needs of residents are met. There are two important principles—resilience and connectivity—that underpin sustainable urban development.

By defining the risks associated with potential extreme events and translating those risks into planning and design solutions urban planners attempt to increase an urban feature’s capacity to absorb change. This capacity, otherwise known as its resilience, allows it to persist in the face of the change and thereby improves its sustainability.

The elements of the physical, biological, social and economic system in which we operate are fundamentally connected. This interconnectivity is relevant in all systems, but particularly in urban environments, where the proximity of the component elements and the frequency of interactions are higher.

These high-level principles point to four areas of response available to help manage the impact of extreme flood events before they occur. Looking particularly at existing and future developments and structures, this paper will discuss the management imperatives needed to ensure our urban fabric is planned, designed and constructed to not only respond proactively to extreme weather events and the ‘human contribution’, but also addresses the need to remove the barriers to decision making when related to complex, interacting systems.

Mr Matt Coetzee, Development Manager – Community Development, Aurecon

Healthy Cities: 4th Making Cities Liveable Conference
Wednesday 27th to Friday 29th July  2011
Venue: The Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort & Spa NOOSA, Queensland

Delivering Sustainable Communities

Discussion of the sustainability of urban development often focuses on the individual building. While the performance of individual buildings is undoubtedly vital to achieving greater efficiency in energy and water use, it is also important to consider the broader context in which these buildings sit and how they are used.

Despite sustainability at the building scale gaining greater acceptance, sustainable precincts or neighbourhoods are still largely non-existent in the Australian context. Our current building and planning regulatory environment fails to adequately require the consideration of sustainability in urban development, and the development industry appears largely intent on continuing the traditional model of greenfield, low density, car based development.

However a greater focus on how communities function, and the impact urban development can have on this, has huge potential in energy, transport, waste and water efficiency, as well as addressing social issues of isolation, access to essential services and support and community resilience. In addition to this, a strong business case is also building for why private developers should take a lead role in this.

This presentation will explore how viable precinct development can work to address both environmental and social issues, discussing a number of leading European examples as well as local initiatives. It will also explore business model innovations and delivery strategies that have the potential to increase the uptake of sustainable precinct projects across Australia.

Peter Steele, Coordinator – Urban Development, Moreland Energy Foundation

Healthy Cities: 4th Making Cities Liveable Conference
Wednesday 27th to Friday 29th July 2011
The Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort & Spa NOOSA, Queensland

An integrated approach to designing healthy cities: Local-area Envisioning and Sustainability scoring System

The health and sustainability of our cities have been put at risk due to challenges like climate change, increasing social inequity, increasing urban population and resource consumption. There is an urgent need to strategise to defend against these challenges to secure our communities against the loss of life, investment and heritage.

HASSELL has designed an integrated urban sustainability assessment framework: Local-area Envisioning and Sustainability Scoring System (LESS) to address this need. LESS allows monitoring, mapping and measuring indicators from all domains relevant to urban sustainability, viz environment, socio-economic, infrastructure and governance. LESS helps answer the following questions instrumental in preparing strategies for the sustained health of cities.

_ What is happening to the urban environment and why?
_ What are the consequences for the environment/humanity?
_ What is being done and how effective is it?
_ What actions could be taken for a healthier and sustainable future?

LESS is spatially enabled, acknowledging the links between environmental and human phenomena. It allows objective assessment of the chosen indicators, and takes into account the priorities and aspirations of the community in the process. This assessment is used to arrive at a unified-weighted index (on a scale of -5 to +5) to indicate the state of health of not only the aspect assessed but also for an entire domain or all domains combined.

The framework is used to: diagnose the nature, extent and location of strengths and weaknesses; establish a consensus among stakeholders on the most critical environmental problems in a city; and prioritise targets for future development. This helps formulate urban strategies and plans to improve urban health and sustainability. This paper presents an up-to-date theoretical-operational overview of LESS describing its structure, and implementation. A case-study is included to illustrate the concepts used in, and results obtained from the use of LESS. 

Dr Arvind Varshney, Spatial Technologies Leader, HASSELL 

Healthy Cities:4th Making Cities Liveable Conference
Wednesday 27th to Friday 29th July  2011
Venue: The Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort & Spa NOOSA, Queensland