Articles on Urban design

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Renaissance master Andrea Palladio designed Villa La Rotonda with rooms of various characters, which at night served as viewing boxes for fireworks displays in the surrounding landscape. Bogna/Wikimedia Commons

Friday essay: why a building and its rooms should have a human character

Might we enjoy our homes more if their rooms were characterised by their sense of loftiness or intimacy or cheerfulness or melancholy rather than lifeless labels such as 'media room' or 'home office'?
Koala numbers are in decline through increased urbanisation, but they can find a safe passage if one’s provided. Shutterstock/dirkr

Safe passage: we can help save koalas through urban design

Koala numbers in parts of Australia are in decline as they move from development of their land. But they can learn to take safer routes if they are built as part of the urban design.
Since the 1960s, environmentalism in Australia has largely focused on defending “wilderness”. yophotography/flickr

Reimagining NSW: going beyond ‘wilderness’ and finding fresh ways to relate to our environment

Since the 1960s, environmentalism in Australia has largely focused on defending "wilderness". However, protected areas in themselves are not stemming the destruction of biodiversity.
Jane Jacobs holds up documentary evidence at a 1961 press conference during the campaign to save the West Village. Wikimedia Commons

What might Jane Jacobs say about smart cities?

In an age of data-driven urban science, we need to remember how Jane Jacobs gave voice to the multiple languages, meanings, experiences and knowledge systems of a vibrant city.
Mature gum trees will be important for visual amenity among the higher-density residences being built to house a population growing at 5.1% a year for the next two decades. AAP/McGregor Coxall

Move over suburbia, Green Square offers new norm for urban living

The Green Square urban renewal area – expected to be Sydney's most densely populated area by 2030 – represents a new paradigm of urban living.
Streetlife density in Florence – urban buzz or overcrowding? Kim Dovey

Urban density matters – but what does it mean?

One person's high density may be another's sprawl; the same tall building may be experienced as oppressive or exhilarating; a "good crowd" for one can be "overcrowded" for another.
Some materials and surfaces radiate much more heat (red areas) than others, as can be seen in this thermal image of Arncliffe Street in Wolli Creek, Sydney.

Building cool cities for a hot future

Hot spots occur at the scale of where people live – the building, the street, the block – which means urban design and building materials have profound implications for our health and well-being.
The ‘Lose Yourself in Melbourne’ ad was onto something: instead of being directed to the fastest or shortest route, some people might want to take a diverting detour. 'It's Easy to Lose Yourself in Melbourne', Tourism Victoria

Why we should design smart cities for getting lost

If smart cities run on big data and algorithms that channel only 'relevant' information and opinions to us, how do we maintain the diversity of ideas and possibilities that drives truly smart cities?
The size and pace of activity in Tokyo can be overwhelming, but at the human scale the city has an incredibly rich layering of experiences built over generations.

Lessons in living heritage from Tokyo to Adelaide

The concept of living heritage can help us make decisions that go beyond preserving historical facades to protect and add to, rather than freeze, the stories and layers of the past.
City residents are embracing the bike as the fastest, most convenient transport in areas like Brunswick, yet an apartment building has been blocked for not providing car parking. flickr/Takver

Nightingale’s sustainability song falls on deaf ears as car-centric planning rules hold sway

It's up to state governments to ensure urban planning rules properly reflect both the desires of residents in the 21st century and the principles of sustainability.

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