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

urban design australiaThe suburbs were the urban living format that defined Australian cities in the 20th century. Inevitably they’ve had their champions and detractors. Suburbia now has a new format in the medium-to-high-density residential spaces that are being rapidly built in previously industrialised areas.

This new urban ecology will bring with it new rhetorical possibilities for reverence, disgust, indifference and interest. The Green Square urban renewal area, which encompasses Zetland and Waterloo along with parts of Alexandria and Rosebery, is a paradigm in this sense. It is tipped to become the most densely populated area in Sydney by 2030.

The once-dominant industrial infrastructure of Green Square now has a less odorous, brighter and more glossy feel, which caters to a new demographic. The cultural history typical of the dominant mix of Anglo and European migrants in the Sydney suburbs of the 20th century is no longer the norm.

While English is still the most common language spoken at home, 45.7% of residents in Green Square and City South Village speak a language other than English at home. Chinese and “other Asian” languages make up 25.9% of this 45.7%.

The Federation cottage and its human equivalents are more likely to appear exotic in these contexts than the generically flashy apartment blocks with their red-brick simulacrum, coloured feature walls and laser-cut cladding.

Residents are unlikely to have a long history in the area. As a result, they lack the nearby family and neighbourly connections to care for children and animals.

The rapid increase in new housing has made heritage a matter of concern for the City of Sydney. It has released a comprehensive study of the area’s industrial heritage and proposed 62 new listings. The listings will have a lasting consequence not only for the history of the area but for its character as it continues to develop.

The majority are buildings that date back prior to 1970, with Harry Seidler’s Q Store on Bourke Road the most recent. Red brick buildings in Art Deco and Functionalist styles fare particularly well. These will now, in all likelihood, outlast many of the post-1970s warehouses and showrooms currently in use. To read more click here.

The 9th International Urban Design Conference will be held in Melbourne in November.  To express your interest in the 2016 Conference CLICK HERE.

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