Preserving Urban Watercourses: An Affordable and Ecological Design Approach to Manage Urban Flash Floods

The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017.

Ms Rumana Asad, PhD Student at the University of Newcastle will be at this year’s Conference, discussing “Preserving urban watercourses: an affordable and ecological design approach to manage urban flash floods”.

Rumana Asad

The growing awareness of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) confirms its acceptability due to environment friendly and locally preferred approaches. In the age of climate change, EbA entails adaptation strategies and processes that are grounded in the sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystem services often managed by local people and technology. Despite its potential the applications of EbA remain still limited, particularly in the realm of urban design and planning.

In favoring its applications EbA, recent literature attempts establish theoretical connections between ecological design and EbA while dispiriting hard engineering solutions, which seem to be expensive and have negative impacts on ecosystems. Thus for developing cities the use of EbA is particularly important and effective. The theoretical framework of this paper is grounded  on the connections thereby testing it through a case in developing cities. Such a city Khulna has been increasingly affected by flash floods over last decade due to heavy rain every year.

The study investigates the potential of local ecosystem and strategies of ecological design as well as landscape urbanism to reduce these impacts. Since multidisciplinary approaches “participatory and culturally appropriate” are widely recommended, this study employs interviews with local people and experts to identify urban design challenges and to appreciate ecological design integrated with EbA so as to enhance the resilience of urban infrastructure.

This study finds that Khulna’s planning policies focus more on physical planning offering piece-meal based and problem-based solutions only while disregarding incorporating the potentials of EbA.
Additionally, new infrastructure, which is often failed linking to urban watercourses and wetlands and thus increase the city’s imperviousness and surface runoff, thereby posing Khulna more vulnerable to flash flood.

Accordingly, this paper advocates for an interdisciplinary ecological design approach to bring nature back while preserving watercourses so as to increase the resilience of urban infrastructure.

The 2017 International Urban Design Conference is an opportunity for design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban futures.

Find out more here.


Urban Megatrends and Green Cities in 2050

Secure your seat for the 10th International Urban Design Conference, held in Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa this November.

Mr David Cowan, Urban Renewal & Strategic Planning Leader for Conrad Gargett will be joining us this year to discuss “Urban megatrends and green cities in 2050”.

By 2050, cities will be home to 70% of the world’s population and the effects of climate change and resource scarcity will become very real. As the forces of globalisation and the need for sustainability converge in our urban communities the role of urban design will become more pronounced.

David Cowan

Bold aspirations of the past will confront a future of low economic growth, deteriorating climate and increased global migration. Meanwhile, rapid advancements in mobile, renewable and transport technologies will offer new opportunities for cities to harness.

As technology and sustainability merge with our daily lives, our homes and our workplaces, the design of buildings will evolve accordingly. Today’s green buildings will become the fax machines of tomorrow, as market forces drive more sustainable and advanced architecture. With population growth increasing the pressure on transport and open spaces, our public realm will need to perform better as well, providing for the movement and recreation of more people and a greater resilience from extreme weather.

By 2050, prestige green buildings and vehicles will be commonplace; however the performance of the public realm, public transport and more affordable buildings seems less certain. How can urban designers, planners and architects help deliver sustainable urbanism for all? And what are the learnings from pre-war cities that evolved before the arrival of motor cars and cheap energy?

The 2017 International Urban Design Conference is an opportunity for design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban futures.

Find out more here.

Adopting the Sustainable Development Goals is a Business Opportunity for Australia

It has been 25 years since Australia last experienced a recession. We’ve had an extraordinary period of uninterrupted economic growth – the longest in modern history – and this has greatly increased our prosperity.

Thanks to the abundance of natural resources needed to build roads, railways and skyscrapers in fast-growing cities across Asia, Australia’s economy has had a good run over the past quarter century.

But an expanding list of environmental, health and social burdens risk undermining our growth model. Business as usual is not an option. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched in 2015, are 17 goals for ending poverty, transforming health and education, improving our cities and communities, addressing gender equity and tackling urgent challenges such as climate change. Collectively, they propose a new development pathway, based on partnership between governments, civil society and business that could transform our societies.

Photo: article supplied

Take our cities, for example. Cities are the economic powerhouses of our country, especially since the end of the mining boom (our capital cities alone generate around two-thirds of our GDP). Cities matter more than ever to our future employment and prosperity, but our urban quality of life is deteriorating. We spend on average 85 minutes a day commuting, up from 50 minutes half a century ago. Congestion already costs our capital cities $16.5bn annually, and that could double by 2030. The affordability of housing nationwide has more than halved since 1980, locking many out of the Australian dream.

Our urban lifestyles have become a growing burden on our health, too. A rising set of noncommunicable diseases, such as obesity, are posing massive challenges for the health system. In 2015, almost two in three Australian adults were overweight or obese.

The labour force is changing dramatically. A report completed by AlphaBeta for the Foundation for Young Australians found that 70% of young people currently enter the workforce in jobs that will be radically affected by automation and imports over the next 10 to 15 years.

This article was originally published by The Guardian.

Click here to read the entire article.


Australia’s cities are green but they also have some major flaws

Australia’s major cities are in danger of becoming miserable metropolises full of unhappy residents unless more investment is made in public transport and there’s some relief from the high cost of living.

The country’s capitals are also ill prepared for natural disasters and would struggle to cope in the face of a major terrorist attack.

That’s the conclusion of an innovative study that ranked 100 of the world’s cities according to how they fared when it came to social, economic and environmental factors — or, as the research lists them — people, profit and planet.

Canberra is Australia’s happiest and most sustainable city.Source:News Corp Australia
Canberra is Australia’s happiest and most sustainable city. Source:News Corp Australia

And unlike many other surveys of global cities, the Sustainable Cities Index placed Melbourne below its archrival of Sydney.

“A lot of people get confused with sustainability being just about the environment but, by our definition, balancing immediate needs of the population without compromising the needs of tomorrow is the heart of a sustainable city,” said Greg Steele, chief executive officer of design and consultancy firm Arcadis’ Australia Pacific arm, which commissioned the research.

The world’s most sustainable city was Zurich, which scored highest on environmental metrics for being a profit centre. But it fell because of the lack of work-life balance and high prices in the Swiss city.

Singapore, Stockholm, Vienna and London were also in the top five.

Asked which global city balanced profit, planet and people most successfully, Mr Steele highlighted Canberra, which is the highest ranked Australian city and the 18th most sustainable city worldwide.

Mr Steele said the ACT’s single level of government meant things got done quickly and initiatives, such as Canberra’s new light rail, were going to keep it on top.

But just like Australia’s other major cities, a lack of affordable housing had dragged it down.

And if Canberrans think they’ve got it bad, just head up the road.

Melbourne was down the list of Australia’s most sustainable cities. Picture: Mark StewartSource:News Corp Australia
Melbourne was down the list of Australia’s most sustainable cities. Source:News Corp Australia

Despite the multitude of catastrophic events, from floods in Brisbane to bushfires on the outskirts of Melbourne, the report found dealing with disasters including possible terrorist attacks, wasn’t a priority.

In the global rankings, Sydney was the world’s 21st most sustainable city, Brisbane the 30th and Melbourne 32nd.

The harbour city’s collection of world class universities and its generally healthier population pulled it in front of Melbourne and Brisbane. The Victorian capital also scored worse on the environmental front than Sydney.

Yet last month, the Economist Intelligence Unit found Melbourne the world’s most liveable city with Sydney kicked out of the global leaderboard due to the “heightened perceived threat of terrorism”.

He also said that the Arcadis survey measured something else: happiness — or the lack of.

A successful work life balance as well as a quick commute were factors that helped residents get happy.

Read more.

Reconnecting urban planning with health and well-being

urban sustainabilityFor many, a city is a double-edged sword. It creates new wealth and opportunities for many but also results in myriad concerns around adequate job opportunities, hygiene, cost of living, security and quality of life.

Urban waste and pollution have also contributed significantly to global warming, with some 70 per cent of carbon emissions coming from cities, according to the United Nations. This has not only affected crop yields and food security but, increasingly, posed higher risks to susceptibility to new communicable diseases such as the Zika virus, which the World Health Organization has declared an international public health emergency.

Malaysia for example, experienced a 50 percent rise in deaths from dengue fever — like Zika, a tropical disease transmitted by the Aedes mosquito — last year compared with the previous year. According to the Health Ministry, that’s the biggest such jump ever recorded.

Medical experts point to rapid urbanization alongside poor planning as a key cause of the spread of new and existing diseases in cities, a factor that is being exacerbated by global warming. An important tool in responding, then, is to bolster the systems offered by the city and its communities.

The policymaking challenge of reconnecting urban planning with public health was a central point made in a set of stakeholder recommendations for sustainable urbanization released this month, called “The City We Need 2.0”. The report, the result of more than two-dozen public events that took place around the globe over the past half-year, puts forth 10 key “principles” for a new vision of sustainable urbanisation. 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.