It's people, in addition to architecture or history, that make some meeting places worthy of heritage protection. Social values are now among the listing criteria, but many such places remain at risk.
A friendly wave from a neighbour is one of life's incidental but invaluable interactions. Porches, balconies, front yards and footpaths have proven their importance as cogs of neighbourhood life.
Apartments house one in ten Australians, including a higher share of low-income households than other housing types. A new study identifies why some high-density neighbourhoods work better than others.
We are all finding out about neighbourhood liveability as we stay home for the coronavirus lockdown. What we learn about local strengths and weaknesses can help us improve our communities in future.
Most of the activities that define city life we do together. Now that we are having to get used to more isolated lives, will this have lasting social impacts or will city life resume as before?
Across the world, people have spontaneously gathered on balconies to create music – and community – in the face of isolation and fear.
Community projects play a vital role in city life.
Even without air conditioning, there are still many things you can do to prepare for extreme heat and stay comfortable on hot days.
Air conditioning isn't the answer for everyone, especially for residents of the less affluent – and often hotter – suburbs of our big cities. But there are other ways to make hot days more bearable.
Greater Dandenong Civic Centre was completed in 2014 with new council chambers, a library and Harmony Square.
Photo: Hayley Henderson
A major investment in renewing the urban centre of Dandenong is starting to pay dividends. But while research has found three keys to success, the benefits haven't reached everyone.
One nine-year-old chose his local supermarket as a place he valued because he could “spend time with mum and help decide what goes in our trolley”.
When primary school children in a disadvantaged part of Sydney were asked to map what they valued in the area, their choices were revealing and sometimes surprising.
Even the standard grassed nature strip has value for local wildlife.
When so much of the green space in our cities is in the form of nature strips, current restrictions on plantings are denying us the many social and environmental benefits of more diverse greenery.
Urban planning that provides green space and cycling and walking infrastructure promotes better health for all.
Planners understand the key elements of urban communities that will improve residents' health and well-being. They also need to be able to convince others to create such communities.
There is help available for young refugees who find themselves homeless in Australia, if only they can find it.
Young refugees are at high risk of being homeless in Australia. A five-year study has found re-establishing connections with their communities was the pathway out of homeless for most of them.
When neighbourhoods lose their corner stores, they also lose a place where people meet and feel like part of their local community.
As neighbourhoods lost their milk bars, they also lost a daily point of connection for locals. But all is not lost. In some areas, the humble corner store is making a comeback.
Most new apartments were not designed with families in mind and parents of young children can struggle to make social connections.
Almost half of apartment residents in Australia are families, but few high-rise dwellings were built with them in mind. Many find these apartments present barriers to building social connections.
Public libraries can use their status as community hubs to engage the public in scenario planning for the future.
We commonly think of libraries as repositories of knowledge accumulated over centuries. But the public library also connects people in ways that can enable communities to plan for their future.
Residents play Pimp my Suburb, an exercise in engaging the community in achieving higher density while preserving what they love about their neighbourhood.
Faced with local planning changes like infill development people often fear they could lose the neighbourhood they love. But serious games are proving effective in giving locals a say in their future.
New housing estates on the city fringes might be soulless, cookie-cutter developments, but communities can invest them with layers of meaning that create a sense of place.
A sense of place matters for people and communities. When a suburb is created from scratch, close attention needs to be paid to the cues from the landscape and meanings people attach to the area.
The kebab van enlivens and humanises otherwise unattractive and abandoned parts of the city.
Kebab vans symbolise the success of 'bottom-up' multiculturalism, providing a way for the non-European cultural ‘other’ to become part of our way of life.
The ways in which older women maintain meaningful social connections are many and varied – in this case, they do volunteer work for a greyhound adoption service.
What matters to women as they grow older, as the city's population changes and urban development continues apace? You don't know unless you ask them – and they have so much to contribute.