Can Money Really Grow On Trees?

Increased leaf canopy cover is linked to a significant increase in property values, according to Green infrastructure: a vital step to brilliant Australian cities.

The report, released by infrastructure firm AECOM, compiled urban data analytics across three different suburbs in Sydney, and found that for every 10 per cent increase in the canopy coverage within the street corridor, the value of properties increased by an average of $50,000.

Annandale’s value increased to $60,761, Blacktown increased to $55,000 and Willoughby climbed to $33,152.

Report co-author and AECOM Cities Leader James Rosenwax said population growth in Sydney had placed enormous pressure on existing critical infrastructure like roads and utilities, but trees were often forgotten or undervalued.

“If we don’t put a financial value on trees there is less incentive to protect them when looking at the cost benefits of new roads, bridges or buildings,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the humble street tree is often in conflict with other forms of infrastructure and development.

“Our report found that without sufficient ‘green infrastructure’ Sydney would be hotter, more polluted and could be worth $50 billion less.”

The value a city derives from its urban trees is difficult to measure due to the disconnect between the beneficiaries and the direct costs borne by the councils, utilities and road authorities who manage them.

The report’s author and AECOM Director Roger Swinbourne said those who didn’t experience or understand a tree’s collective benefits would only perceive its costs such as potential to fall, dropping leaves across lawns, or shading of rooftop solar.

Originally Published by The Urban Developer, continue reading here.

CityLife Project: Let’s Create Better NSW Cities

The Urban Developer


The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) New South Wales wants to work with the industry and the community to create more connected, affordable and liveable cities, and it is willing to pay up to $500,000 to help drive this change.

Launched today, the CityLife Project competition is open to any reputable organisation or company wanting to partner with the Institute to deliver practical research that identifies how our cities should grow and develop into the future.

UDIA NSW Chief Executive Stephen Albin said our State’s centres are feeling the pressure of growth, which can be a double-edged sword – with growth comes the opportunity to enhance the lives of people in cities.

“The Urban Development Institute is calling on universities, industry professionals and community groups with a specialisation in city growth to enter the CityLife Project and work with us to drive positive change,” he said.

The competition focuses on three key areas – Affordable Cities, Connected Cities and Liveable Cities – with entrants able to enter their research ideas in each category for a chance to win $50,000 in research funding plus $95,000 in partnership exposure.

“We’re interested in encouraging better health and wellbeing in cities; we want centres where everyone can easily work, live and play; and we want cities that people can easily traverse using technology, their feet and transport.”

Mr Albin said once complete, the research will be made available to governments and the public, and the Institute will work to see practical and positive recommendations realised.

View the full article here.

Urban design found to affect physical activity in Chinese cities

Original article published by Cities Today on 2 March 2015 Author Jonathan Andrews

A new study by New York University and East China Normal University researchers has found that the design of the built environment influences how much walking and cycling people do in Chinese cities where obesity and chronic diseases are at highly elevated levels and still rising.

“While not surprising,” write the authors in their study published in the journal Preventive Medicine, “this finding is important, as it demonstrates that the association between the design of the built environment and walking, which has been found to be linked in research in Western countries, also holds true in China.”

The report, Walking, obesity, and urban design in Chinese neighborhoods, finds that part of the emerging evidence “will be of critical importance to persuade local government officials and developers of the value of pursuing more walkable urban development patterns.”

Photo by Richard Schneider

Reflecting on China’s high rates of obesity and chronic diseases, the researchers set out to explore the impact of the built environment on physical activity in six densely populated neighbourhoods in Shanghai and Hangzhou. Each was inventoried for ease of walking and cycling, inclusive of such features as footpaths, street trees, benches, street widths, and curb cuts.

The communities were also audited for barriers to pedestrians and cyclists, such as vendors and parked cars obstructing the pavement, visible air pollution, bicycle lane hindrances, and overhead pedestrian bridges, which require greater exertion cross the street.

Four hundred and fifty-five Shanghai residents and 615 Hangzhou residents were surveyed for the study in central public spaces in order to assess rates of walking and cycling for travel and recreation, and for health outcomes, including Body Mass Index (BMI), demographic information, and environmental perceptions.

The higher the neighbourhood ranked overall in the ‘State of Place Index’ the greater were the levels of walking and cycling for commuting and recreation.

According to the study, income levels played a role in how much a respondent walked or cycled, but not in a predictable way as both higher and lower income respondents were more likely to have lower BMI, compared to middle income respondents, who were more likely to live in suburban neighbourhoods that have car-oriented transport and a lack of pedestrian amenities.

While the researchers did not examine the food environment, their study recommends that food intake be explored by other researchers in the future to shed further light on the link between income, obesity and walking in Chinese cities.

Changing attitudes in urban planning – suburbanisation to inner densification

The 6th International Urban Design Conference is pleased to welcome Ms Maud Cassaignau and Mr Markus Jung of Monash University who will be presenting at this event entitled “UrbanAgiNation” urbanisation | agitation | imagination which will examine the Liveability, Productivity, Affordability and Efficiency of our Cities 9th to Wednesday 11th of September 2013 at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park.

Ms Maud Cassaignau and Mr Markus Jung will present on how they induce discussions in the Melbourne architecture community about challenges and potentials of urban development: In a context of intense urban growth, they believe that planning has to be rethought: from a laisser-faire suburbanization, to a planed densification of existing urban fabric.

The former industrial area of Cremorne was used as a case-study to demonstrate transformation potentials of atmospheric, well-connected inner neighbourhoods. The project is taking a counter position to current sprawling. To handle the pressure of population growth, cities like Melbourne commonly expand outwards. This creates manifold problems: detached low-rise settlements with inefficient infrastructure, social segregation, ever-increasing land consumption and networks costs. Melbourne is predicted to grow by 1,8 million until 2036, centrifugal growth needs to be reconsidered.

The case-study project was developed collaboratively with students, urban activists, journalists and used Monash University as a platform. As part of the overall strategy, the activation of urban space was pursued in conjunction with a website and flyer campaign. This method allowed gaining visibility and exchanging with the architecture community, the neighbourhood and urban planning authorities. The temporary installation in a car park demonstrated the potentials of underused space. Combined bottom-up and top-down strategies attracted attention to the importance of sustainable urban growth and the potentials of densification as alternative to sprawl. The dissemination was key for gaining local and international visibility: connecting real world problems of sustainable urban regeneration with those faced by urban agglomeration globally. More information on the study can be found at

If you would like to attend this presentation registrations for the 6th International Urban Design Conference , are open just click here.  See you there!

Parlour survey no 1: Where do all the women go?

Parlour is a new website bringing together research, resources and informed opinion on gender, equity and architecture. It seeks to expand the spaces and opportunities available to women while also revealing the many women who already contribute in diverse ways.

Parlour’s first survey is now live – please fill it out to help us to build a more nuanced picture of the women of Australian architecture.

If you are a woman involved in Australian architecture, or with a background in Australian architecture, Parlour wants to know about you. The survey takes an expanded view of what architectural activity and modes of practice might be and includes women abroad with backgrounds in Australian architecture, and those who have ‘left’ architecture.

 Find the survey here: