Biophilia in Urban Design – Patterns and Principles for Smart Australian Cities

Over thirty years ago ecologist EO Wilson proposed the Biophilia hypothesis – a powerful idea which asserts that humans have an instinctive bond with nature and that it is an essential part of our well-being.

The idea was tested over the years and in 2008 the concept of Biophilic Design was formalised and popularised by social ecologist, the late Stephen Kellert, and cohorts. It has been further developed by Peter Newman and others, particularly Tim Beatley who has written extensively about Biophilic Cities. Biophilic design has been codified for commercial acceptance, notably with the 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design, informed by empirical evidence and interdisciplinary analysis of more than 500 peer-reviewed publications and promoted by Terrapin Bright Green LLC.

There is increasing application and acceptance of the hypothesis in Australian planning and design practice, relating human biological science and nature to the design of the built environment, and biophilic patterns and principles can be identified in numerous examples of Australian urban design. However, there is little evidence of the concept being applied to the design, development and operation of smart cities.

Surprisingly, biophilic effects can be achieved with no physical or tangible link to ‘nature’ at all. Indirect experiences of ‘nature’ can generate measurable biophilic psycho-physiological responses, for instance in hospital rooms when people are exposed to images of nature such as artificial sky.

These ‘illusory’ effects may be valuable for environments that cannot readily support real biological systems – such as rooms buried deep inside large buildings. There are parts of our cities where nature struggles to survive; in such places, biophilia may be evoked by technological, rather than biological means. In research with Deakin University my colleagues and I established that places like the new underground railway system in Melbourne justified the addition of another biophilic design ‘pattern’ to describe these ‘virtual’ biophilic effects.

Biophilia enhances well-being. Part of the agenda of smart cities is to do just that. Our research suggests that cities should embed a biophilia ethos in their urban design to ameliorate the negative results of overly reductionist approaches to efficient urbanism.

Paul Downton, Architect & Researcher

Article based on a paper presented at the 9th International Urban Design Conference in Canberra by Dr Paul Downton and colleagues from Deakin University, Prof David Jones and Josh Zeunert.

Mr Anthony Venturni, Managing Director at Arcadis to join us.

Mr Anthony Venturni, Managing Director- Buildings and Urban Development at Arcadis Victoria joins us at the upcoming 9th International Urban Design Conference in Canberra and will present on the topic of Unlocking the full potential of your city’s transit-hubs’.

Mr Anthony Venturni
Mr Anthony Venturni

Our Mobile Future: Delivering City Value & Prosperity Through Mobility Orientated Developments (MODe).

MODe allows us to have a much better vision of what our cities can be, and how we can unlock the potential of transit-hubs to improve lives. Transit-hubs are no longer simply places where travellers arrive or depart, increasingly they are destinations in themselves. As a result they can positively impact the surrounding area both economically and socially. Using a unique, new approach Arcadis has benchmarked the performance of a selection of the world’s leading transportation-related developments in our latest report.

Join us at the upcoming 9th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Hyatt Canberra from Monday 7 November to Wednesday 9 November 2016. For more information on the conference and to secure your spot please visit the Conference Website.

Mr Geoff Barker, Principal of PM+D Architects and Services joins us this November.

Mr Geoff Barker is Principal of PM+D Architects and Services in Western Australia joins us at the 9th International Urban Design Conference this November and will discuss with us ‘Visualising a future smart city – Incorporating people into the picture’.

Mr Geoff Barker
Mr Geoff Barker

With the technological explosion of innovations, apps and gadgets and the connective immediacy of communications, information and intrusion, how do people fit into the picture? Are people, the population diversity within the community, just being swept along as part of a technological lava flow, hardening at the sides of an incessant stream? Examples of community involvement methodologies implemented on two projects presented suggest otherwise and a case study demonstrates how embracing the diverse make up of our community as partners in development, rather than merely recipients of development, can deliver benefits central to an understanding of a smart city.

Join us at the upcoming 9th International Urban Design Conference at the Hyatt Canberra from Monday 7 November to Wednesday 9 November 2016. For more information and to secure your spot at this annual event please visit the Conference Website.

An Urban Design template for community-focused residential development.

Mr Murray Brassington, Partner at Baldasso Cortese Architects in Victoria joins us this November at the 9th International Urban Design Conference and will present on the topic of An Urban Design template for community-focused residential development.’

Mr Murray Brassington
Mr Murray Brassington

With the demise of manufacturing industry in Australia, large areas of  industrial land are now redundant. At the same time Melbourne is experiencing sustained population growth and needs to find a home for an extra 1 million people.

High rise residential development continues in the CBD, while opportunities are restricted in dormitory suburbs as community resistance to densification continues and outmoded zoning controls persist.

How can urban design strategies provide a template for providing community-focussed residential infrastructure?

Join us at the upcoming 9th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Hyatt Canberra from Monday 7 November to Wednesday 9 November 2016. For more information on the conference and to secure your spot please visit the Conference Website.

Introducing Mr Hugh Gardner, Senior City Planner at Arup.

Hugh Gardner is a senior city planner in Arup’s landscape and urban team. In 2013, Hugh presented the International Urban Design Conference with a vision for future regenerative cities that might move beyond the current understanding of sustainability. The thinking was developed in partnership with Prof. Peter Newman. The last few years have seen this thinking shape Hugh’s metropolitan strategy work with cities around Australia, including Canberra.

Mr Hugh Gardner
Mr Hugh Gardner

Hugh’s 2016 presentation will explore Canberra’s future form in the context of two recent Arup pieces led by Hugh, the city’s statement of ambition and the smart city opportunity assessment.

After an overview of Canberra’s stated directions of travel and their importance to the future city form, conference participants will be asked to consider the relationship between the statement of ambition and Canberra’s future as a smart city on the world stage.

The upcoming 9th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Hyatt Canberra from Monday 7 November to Wednesday 9 November 2016. For more information on the 9th International Urban Design Conference please visit the Conference Website.