Cities – Articles, Analysis, Comment

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The Urban Planning Exhibition Centre in Shanghai – good planning is immensely valuable. Jordiferrer/Wikimedia Commons

Australian cities are crying out for better planning, but the research funding is missing

Given the challenges Australian cities face, the need for urban planning based on solid research is greater than ever. Sadly, when it comes to research funding, planning is at the back of the queue.
What does a green star rating – One Central Park apartments in Sydney received five stars, for instance – actually mean? AAP

Greenwashing the property market: why ‘green star’ ratings don’t guarantee more sustainable buildings

Buildings are central to creating more sustainable cities, and green ratings are often used to assess how well a building measures up against this goal. But the current system has serious flaws.
Retrofitting older homes to ‘green’ the nation’s housing stock involves much more than installing rooftop solar panels. Tracey Nearmy/AAP

The other 99%: retrofitting is the key to putting more Australians into eco-homes

While new buildings may be the glamorous eco-home pinups, retrofitting existing homes is the main game when it comes to creating energy-efficient, comfortable housing stock for all Australians.
Four major disruptions of urban transport are set to transform city life, but exactly how remains uncertain. Taras Makarenko/Pexels

Utopia or nightmare? The answer lies in how we embrace self-driving, electric and shared vehicles

Self-driving, shared, electric vehicles and increasing urban density represent four disruptions that will transform city life. But a transport utopia isn't a guaranteed outcome of their interactions.
The future of Perth’s urban wetlands is in doubt. Orderinchaos/Wikimedia Commons

Is Perth really running out of water? Well, yes and no

Perth, unlike Cape Town, faces no prospect of its tapwater running out. But other problems lurk beneath the surface, as the city's drying climate puts increasing pressure on irrigation and wetlands.
Australia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gillian Bird, makes a statement at the 2016 Habitat III conference, where the New Urban Agenda was adopted. Alexei Trundle

This is why health has to be at the heart of the New Urban Agenda

Australia and other United Nations member states signed up to the New Urban Agenda more than a year ago. But how well is health being integrated into sustainable urban development?
Nurses who care for people in the city can’t afford a property anywhere near their place of work. didesign021/Shutterstock

Key workers like nurses and teachers are being squeezed out of Sydney. This is what we can do about it

People on moderate incomes, including police and emergency workers, have been forced to seek housing on the city fringes, far from their places of work. But there are ways to reverse this trend.
Much of the traffic using Sydney’s Anzac Bridge and, in the distance, Harbour Bridge is travelling through the city centre, not to it or from it. Rob Roggema

This is how WestConnex can deliver Sydney a better city centre

One potential benefit of WestConnex, which remains untouched, is that it could relieve Sydney's city centre from cars and make it more pedestrian-friendly.
Children’s right to play outdoors depends on them having access to safe and inclusive public spaces.

Putting the pieces together to create safe public spaces for all

For a public space to be seen as safe, welcoming and accessible, a diverse range of people need to actively use it. That's why any space-changing project needs to engage broadly with the community.
With water storages running low, residents of Cape Town get drinking water in the early morning from a mountain spring collection point. Nic Bothma/EPA

Cape Town is almost out of water. Could Australian cities suffer the same fate?

The situation in Perth in particular has some parallels to that of Cape Town, but Australian cities responded to the last big drought by investing in much bigger water supply and storage capacity.
Point Cook is an example of the ‘super-diverse ethnoburbs’ that are home to new migrants of relatively high socioeconomic status from a mix of many countries. Shilpi Tewari

The rise of the super-diverse ‘ethnoburbs’

Australia has had a large influx of skilled migrants in recent decades. Better educated and more highly paid than past generations of migrants, they are also creating a different sort of community.
Only in a few active travel strongholds, typically in the inner city, do Australian cycling and walking rates get close to those in Europe. Andrew Robinson/Flickr

Australian cities are far from being meccas for walking and cycling

A comparison of Australian cities reveals cyclists and walkers are still very much a minority of commuters, despite the economic, health and environmental costs. Action on three fronts is needed.
Prime inner-city land, such as the Flemington estate, is being sold to developers to build new housing, but the public lacks basic details about these deals. Artist's impression, Victorian government

Governments have no excuse for keeping public in the dark on public housing deals

The Victorian government isn't alone in seeking private partners to renew public housing. What is notable is its lack of transparency by comparison with such arrangements elsewhere.
Federal and state government representatives descended on Geelong when a memorandum of understanding for the latest City Deal was signed on January 17. Ellen Smith/AAP

Cities policy goes regional

With the emerging emphasis on regional City Deals and Smart Cities funding, perhaps Australia is beginning to find its way to a national cities policy, rather than just a big cities policy.
Share-bikes can litter our cities and be found in rivers, up trees, in gutters, and strewn around public places. Obikes in unusual places/Facebook

Three reasons why share-bikes don’t fit Australian culture

There are three key cultural reasons why a share-bike business model that could be successful in Singapore is much less likely to be so in Australia.