Cities – Articles, Analysis, Comment

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Australia got in first with restrictions on foreign investors in housing, but Jacinda Arden’s new government plans to go further. Daniel Munoz/AAP

Foreign ownership of housing – how do Australia and New Zealand compare?

Concerns about foreign investors driving up housing prices have been growing. Australia was first to bar foreign purchases of existing residential property, but New Zealand is set to go further.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff launch Sidewalk Toronto, a high-tech urban development project. Mark Blinch/Reuters

Can a tech company build a city? Ask Google

Toronto has entered a joint venture with a Google sister company to create a high-tech urban development area. The goal is to 're-imagine cities from the internet up' – Google's internet, of course.
If more people live in the Adelaide Hills, they are more likely to be exposed to bushfires. David Mariuz/AAP

Natural hazard risk: is it just going to get worse or can we do something about it?

What decisions can we make today to reduce the future risk of hazards like floods and fire? Particularly in a time of climate change, modelling various plausible futures helps us plan for uncertainty.
Connections between people and between people and places help create vibrant neighbourhoods with a sense of human identity and belonging. Picture by Tommy Wong

A city that forgets about human connections has lost its way

The secret of creating attractive, liveable places sounds deceptively simple: connect people to places, people to transport and people to people.
We need to look behind the sharing economy’s apparently informal, casual intent to consider the impacts on people’s lives. Montri Nipitvittaya/Shutterstock

Sharing economy sounds caring, but let’s put it to the ethical city test

In cities dominated by globalised market forces, how can we achieve social equity and justice? For any sharing economy idea, we need to ask what will it do to fix the big problems confronting us all.
Movies from the “neo-noir” genre offer a darker and bleaker vision of the city, in stark contrast to the world of the TV sit-com. Tan Zi Han/Shutterstock

Movies and TV choose to tell us different stories about the cities of today

Movies often portray the city as a dystopia, particularly in the 'neo-noir' genre, which explores postmodern themes. TV shows and ads present an altogether sunnier picture of life in the city.
The Thomson Dam, Melbourne’s largest water storage, dropped to only 16% of capacity in the last big drought. Melbourne Water/flickr

This is what Australia’s growing cities need to do to avoid running dry

Australian cities have turned to some very costly solutions when water is scarce. But as the world's second-highest users of water per person, more efficient use and recycling are key.
It’s now possible to experience virtual walks through nature – like this video, for example – but can that ever match the real thing? Video screenshot, sounds from the core/YouTube

Can virtual nature and poo transplants solve city dwellers’ health problems?

Faecal transplants and virtual nature are technological solutions to ‘nature deficit disorder’ from urban living. Such 'quick fixes' offer some benefits, but are no substitute for the real thing.
Including community members as participants and co-creators of the Dragon of Shandon is central to the festival’s success. OpenLens.ie/Dragon of Shandon

A dragon-led recovery: how a community is reaping the benefits of a spooky Halloween festival

Urban festivals built on community involvement can reinvigorate places and create a shared sense of place and purpose that lasts long after the event is over.
Lots of parking: the extraordinary amount of valuable land used to park cars in most cities could soon be freed up for other uses. Antonio Gravante/Shutterstock

Freeing up the huge areas set aside for parking can transform our cities

Cities around the world are starting to rethink the vast areas of land set aside for parking. The convergence of several trends likely will mean this space becomes available for other uses.
Maya Demetriou, 90, pictured after the court ruling that the minister did not properly consider a heritage listing recommendation, will be the last tenant left in the Sirius building. Perry Duffin/AAP

Last of the Millers Point and Sirius tenants hang on as the money now pours in

All but a handful of the former public housing tenants are gone. But despite the government again rejecting the recommended heritage listing of the Sirius building, the fight to save it isn't over.
Without medium-density housing being built in the established suburbs – the ‘missing middle’ – the goals of more compact, sustainable and equitable cities won’t be achieved. zstock/shutterstock

Becoming more urban: attitudes to medium-density living are changing in Sydney and Melbourne

Residents of established middle suburbs are slowly coming round to the idea, but governments and the property sector lack the capacity to deliver compact cities that are acceptable to the community.
The ageing population is one factor in increasing numbers of people living alone, and innovative and inclusive responses are needed. shutterstock

We are living alone together in today’s cities – and that calls for smart and ‘bolshie’ moves

Living and dying alone presents many challenges for cities, and we'll need more than technology to meet these. Only an inclusive, innovative response can deliver the essential element of human care.
Play activates cities and engages people, and by appropriating urban spaces it changes what these mean to people.

Bringing back an old idea for smart cities – playing on the street

As adults we often trivialise the value of play. But playing games lets us play with possibilities, see how they play out – and exploring alternative realities helps us see the familiar in new ways.