Urban design

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Australian cities are increasingly building up rather than building out. AAP/Joel Carrett

Speaking with: Hazel Easthope on designing for high density living

Speaking with: Hazel Easthope on high density living and design.
Higher density housing provides unique challenges that make the mix of design, build and social considerations all the more important in creating sustainable and enjoyable living environments.
Prefabricated buildings don’t have to be dull. The challenge will be to get Australians to embrace them. Wendy Miller

Not just daggy dongas: time to embrace prefabricated buildings

Memories of school demountables might cause some people to sneer at prefabricated buildings. But they can be stylish too, not to mention offering a possible way to ease the housing affordability problem.
Now that we have your attention… Image sourced from Shutterstock.com

Forget siestas, ‘green micro-breaks’ could boost work productivity

Everyone know it's good to escape to the great outdoors, but new research shows just 40 seconds with some greenery can boost our ability to concentrate.
An increasing number of apartments being built in Australia’s cities are failing to meet basic requirements. Image sourced from Shutterstock.com

Life in a windowless box: the vertical slums of Melbourne

Standards for apartments are desperately needed in Melbourne where planning laws allow things banned in cities including New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Vancouver.
It’s not always as ostentatious as Dubai, but our coastlines are home to ever-growing numbers of manmade structures. NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Concrete coastlines: it’s time to tackle our marine ‘urban sprawl’

Urban sprawl has spread to the sea, as more and more man-made structures are being built along the world's coastlines. Just as we do on land, we need to think about how to build sustainably at sea.
Santana Row, located in San Jose, California, is one of many Lifestyle Centers cropping up around the country. Parading themselves as a Main Street from a bygone era, these new retail centers hope to recreate what was lost in the rush to cover America with large malls from the 1950s through the 1990s. Santana Row

Lifestyle centers: reinvented communities or dressed-up shopping malls?

Meet the indoor shopping mall's hipper, “New Urbanist” cousin.
To understand public heath, you have to understand how the public lives. Commuters via STH/Shutterstock

To tackle inequalities, build health into all public policies

Many of today’s public health issues – diabetes, cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease – are strongly associated with social inequalities. Literature from across the world shows that gaps in income…
The inner suburbs of Melbourne are surprisingly more leafy than the outer suburbs. Andrew

Fewer trees leave the outer suburbs out in the heat

When you look out of your window in the morning, how many trees do you see? Your answer might depend on what suburb you live in. As you go further from the city centre, the amount of tree cover in a suburb…
Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, offers an idea of how pleasant and practical the Velotopian dream of a bike-friendly city might be. AAP/Visit Denmark

Utopia: seriously, good urban planning should aspire to it

The Australian television satire Utopia invited the public along for a laugh that architects and planners have been sharing for decades. We laugh at the idea of utopia to disassociate ourselves from the…
Landscape architects need to mediate between the soft and hard elements of the city. Forecast, photo by John Gollings

Future forecasting: landscape architects might save the world

I predict we’re going to hear a lot more from landscape architects in the coming years. There has long been a misunderstanding about what they actually do – “something about gardens” being a common response…
Immigrant faces from the early 1900s watch Ellis Island visitors pick their way through a crumbling hospital. Aimee VonBokel

Artists' installations raise questions about abandoned buildings

This fall, French street artist JR and American cinematographer Bradford Young each installed a series of portraits in crumbling New York buildings. The two projects were not coordinated, but together…
When it gets hot in the city, where’s the best place to go? Alpha/Flickr

Smart urban design could save lives in future heatwaves

Heatwaves — Australia’s biggest natural killers — are getting more frequent and hotter thanks to climate change. One day cities such as Melbourne may see unprecedented heat, perhaps 48C or higher. But…
Six-star green projects like Melbourne’s Pixel Building are largely confined to Australia’s city centres. Supplied

Green building revolution? Only in high-end new CBD offices

Australia is allegedly in the midst of a “green building revolution”, powered by the awarding of ratings to developers who build sustainable buildings. But this brave new world is only a reality in the…
Green and gone: Perth’s Burswood Park Golf Course is about to make way for a football and casino complex. Moondyne/Wikimedia Commons

Our cities need more trees and water, not less, to stay liveable

Australia’s major cities routinely rank among the world’s most liveable. But for all our clean streets, good healthcare and educational opportunities, one of the things we have to contend with is our sweltering…

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