The cover that trees provide transforms cities into much more hospitable places, especially in hot weather.
Six years after Black Saturday, it's worth remembering that heatwaves kill more people than bushfires do, so shade can be a life-saver. But tree cover and shade are not evenly distributed in cities.
The housing problems experienced by low-income households are a symptom of entrenched inequality within Australia.
Government policy has not, on the whole, failed. It has been a huge success insofar as protecting the opportunities for speculative investment and profit for homeowners and private landlords.
When would-be renters enquire about a property, their ethnicity can make a significant difference to how the agent responds.
An experiment compared the experience of Anglo, Indian and Muslim Middle Eastern "renters" looking for housing. The differences in how they were treated were significant.
For one in three people who live in cities in the global south that means living in a slum.
At the Habitat III summit in October, governments will agree an agenda to guide sustainable global urban development over the next 20 years. The rise of the ethical city is a key element of this.
The urban landscape is complex and ever-changing in cities such as Perth, but digital aerial photography can now monitor even the smallest changes.
Constant, complex changes in cities and mine sites are hard to monitor. Drawing on digital aerial photography, it's now possible to track land-use and vegetation changes in areas as small as 10-20cm.
With a quarter of the population aged over 65, Japan has had to be innovative in catering for their wants and needs.
Japan's ageing population is at the point that Australia is forecast to reach in 2056. The Japanese have had to develop new models of aged care in the community and we can learn a lot from them.
The freedom of the space outside can be a seductive distraction.
Had the Romans, Chinese and English of old seen our buildings, built around views that distract from the interior and our interior lives, they would not have been surprised by modern discontent.
It looks great – but what about the wildlife?
Tree image from www.shutterstock.com.
Cities are aiming to increase their tree cover. But there will need to be more than trees to encourage wildlife to return.
According to all the data, urban car use has peaked, but official traffic modelling forecasts a remarkable reversal.
On average, people won't accept a commuting time of more than an hour. As cities grow ever bigger, new road projects can't achieve this, yet policymakers still rely on modelling that defies evidence.
Lucy and Malcolm Turnbull are a formidable double act capable of driving a Commonwealth-led transformation of urban policy.
Cities have been called “orphans of public policy”, so Malcolm Turnbull's decisive entry into the fray is remarkable. He has the credibility, nous and drive to deliver a national urban policy agenda.
What challenges and transformations will disrupting mobility bring to cities?
Cities are complex systems. One visible artery of the city is traffic – the cluster of moving people and flowing goods – and that mobility is critical for a city's life.
It’s much cheaper and easier to build better access into homes instead of doing it later.
Community and housing industry leaders agreed a national guideline and a plan to provide basic access features in all new housing by 2020. But this voluntary approach is failing.
The following field note on cities as democratic laboratories was inspired by a recent visit to the Republic of Korea. The highlight of my journey was an afternoon meeting and press conference with Park…
A community-led advocacy campaign helped steer the Victorian government away from building the East West Link.
Communities want urban policy to deliver the right projects at the right time in the right place. Governments should embrace local citizens and interest groups as key players in crafting such policy.
Housing affordability, especially in Sydney, is now a source of political protests and the NSW government has announced a funding scheme with the potential to ease the pressure.
In what looks to be a landmark policy announcement with possible national ramifications, the NSW government has outlined the first phase of a $1 billion fund to develop social and affordable housing.
Almost four years since the process of restructuring local government began, the Baird government faces many challenges in finalising its plans.
Wherever governments have merged local councils, they have faced a political backlash. New South Wales is no exception and, nearly four years into the process, many challenges lie ahead.
Urban plans that consider health and well-being must be part of integrative planning policies.
Jason Wesley Upton/flickr
Urban planning aims to create cities that support healthy and productive communities, and the success in putting health on the NSW planning agenda offers lessons in achieving better integrated policy.
Good access to people, services and other essential ingredients of wellbeing is a defining feature of liveable communities.
flickr/US Department of Agriculture
Communities that rate highly for liveability share certain essential features. We can identify and build these key ingredients into our cities to create thriving places where people want to live.
Carrots from farms on Melbourne’s urban fringe.
Australians may need to get used to coping with more disruptions to their food supply and rising food prices in a warming climate.
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.
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.