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.

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How Tranquil Spaces Can Help People Feel Calm and Relaxed in Cities

When you think about somewhere that is tranquil, what do you imagine? Whether it’s a wide open meadow, a deserted beach, or a river as it lazily flows along on a warm summer’s afternoon, research shows tranquillity is mainly found in natural outdoor environments.

These tend to be places where man-made noise is at a low level, but where natural sounds – such as bird song – can be relatively high. Such studies have also shown a link between these types of environments and levels of relaxation, stress reduction and even longevity and pain relief.

It’s clear then that tranquil spaces are good for your health – and yet the world’s population is becoming increasingly urban. There are more trucks, cars, and motorcycles on the roads than ever before resulting in higher levels of noise, pollution and litter. If you live in a busy city, finding tranquillity in your daily life can be a challenge.

Photo: article supplied

Maximum tranquillity

To find out what actually makes somewhere tranquil, we developed the Tranquillity Rating Prediction Tool. The tool measures two factors, the level of man-made noise – usually traffic – as well as the percentage of natural and contextual features in view. This includes things like if a place has a water feature, and lots of greenery. or if a place gives you a view of a religious or historic building – all of which our research shows help to boost the tranquillity of a place.

Based on these factors, the tool can predict the tranquillity of a place on a scale of 0-10. This is based on laboratory studies where people were asked to rate video clips of a range of environments for tranquillity levels. These clips included diverse settings, from a busy market place to natural coastal locations far from any development. Using this method we can not only identify existing (and sometimes overlooked) tranquil spaces, but also offer advice on how urban areas can be made more tranquil.

Our research shows that green spaces on side roads, which are often hidden from view, tend to have high levels of tranquillity due to the screening effects of buildings from the noise of busy streets. Pedestrianised squares in towns and cities were also shown to be acceptably tranquil because of the distance from traffic – some of these squares also featured grass and trees.

Similarly, well-maintained side streets – especially with avenues of trees – or heritage buildings can also score highly due to good visual attributes combined with low traffic noise. Close proximity to water was also shown to be good for tranquillity because it is naturally nice to look at and is relaxing to listen to.

This article was originally published by The Conversation.

Click here to read the entire article.

Ten Steps to Better Sports Investment

Across the world, governments and sports fans continue to be enamoured of huge sporting events and the ambitious new infrastructure that goes with them. We all understand the health and wellbeing benefits and the value to local economies. But without careful planning they can equally become dead places, or end up a drain on public funds.

Matt Lally 

Taking a global perspective I’ve arrived at ten rules for creating vibrant sporting destinations that have real long-term value:

1. Think beyond the finish line. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was planned to provide a huge variety of on-going uses in its post-Games phase. It’s now a much-loved leisure destination for Londoners, bordered by a new neighbourhood that was originally the Olympic Village. Athens 2004, by contrast, demonstrates how not to do it.

2. Take the wider view. A successful venue must connect to the world beyond its doors or gates. That’s why the 2012 Games in London included regeneration plans for much of East London’s surrounding waterways and parkland.

3. Sustainability in each mode of operation. Set clear achievable targets for energy, waste, materials, water and mobility, from base-build, through event and legacy modes. These will safeguard long-term operational costs, while doing the right thing by the environment.

4. Not just sport. Enduring footfall relies on local enthusiasm. In its first year of operation the Singapore Sports Hub, with its mix of sports, entertainment, office, retail and community uses set in parkland, attracted more than one million people on non-sporting-event days.

5. Embedded urbanism. Be a valued neighbour. The Emirates Stadium precinct in London, squeezed into an unforgivingly tight site, has managed to incorporate mixed-tenure housing (including more than 1,000 affordable homes) helping its bottom line while meeting community need.

6. Partnership in delivery. Public and community bodies need to work with private ones. After London’s 2011 riots all key stakeholders came together to find more inclusive ways to use public space. Coinciding with local Tottenham FC’s redevelopment plans, the result is a proposed enlarged stadium that integrates with the surrounding area, creating new, more engaging public spaces.

7. Focus on the ‘Last Mile’. Get the first and last leg of the journey wrong and a facility might be doomed. Ensure good public transport connections, pedestrian ease, wayfinding and accessibility.

8. Beyond the front door. Facilities need to embed attractively and intuitively into their immediate surroundings, with a focus on the quality of public spaces.

9. Build a broad business case. A venue should have breadth of commercial audience and purpose all year round, from sport to music, art to business.

10. Think local. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NYC, has embraced local food and drink vendors, building a reputation for supporting neighbourhood artisans and entrepreneurs, rather than relying on the usual giants like KFC and McDonalds.

Taken together these rules provide an approach that ensures the whole community, from sports fans to local businesses, contractors to local government gains long-term benefits from sporting infrastructure investment, socially as well as financially.

This article was supplied by Matt Lally, Associate Principal of Integrated Design + Planning for Arup.

Growing Food in Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure has many purposes. Among them is food production, but do we use green infrastructure for this as much as we could?

Given proper management, there is plenty of scope to make better use of rooftops, walls and water sensitive urban design assets as sites for growing edible plants. These opportunities range in scale from modern twists on traditional home vegetable gardening to behemoth commercial operations.

Rooftops

A typical city rooftop is under-used. It is wasted space, wasted light and wasted rainwater, and an obvious site for urban gardening or farming. Rooftops can be used for food production in at least three ways:

1.   Commercial rooftop farms

Many commercial rooftop farms use soilless hydroponics systems. There are impressive examples internationally, in cities such as New York, Chicago, Montreal, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Amsterdam and The Hague, and it seems to be only a matter of time before they flourish in cities such as Guangzhou. Commercial rooftop farms are yet to take off in Australia where, despite frequent discussion over the last decade, we still lack a practical understanding of what it takes to establish rooftop farms in Australian cities.

Photo: Pexels.com

2.   Rooftop community gardens

Community-style rooftop vegetable gardening has sprung up in many places, many of which feature a traditional type of container-based gardening, albeit at greater heights than most gardens. In a residential setting, a rooftop community garden is an opportunity for residents to connect with nature and to each other. In a commercial setting, it provides health and well-being benefits to staff, great marketing for the company, and direct benefits for the community if the produce is donated to charity. One of the key challenges in managing a rooftop community garden is keeping enthusiasm among the gardeners high, because their active participation is critical to success.

This article was originally published by Sourceable.net.

Click here to read the entire article.

Green cities are not just for the elite

Green cities have become a key goal of urban development. They are environmentally friendly, provide clean water, protect green space, and offer an enhanced public experience.

However, they’re not perfect. In fact, some of the different needs of citizens may have been neglected amid all the attention lavished on green cities. A green city in many real-life cases is neither green everywhere, nor green for everyone. Also, a green city does not guarantee an economically strong city, nor a livable place for people of all income classes.

Seen from the perspective of urban dwellers of different socioeconomic status, there are five urban development objectives that can be considered as ascending stages on a scale of livability.

First, in its most basic form, urban life needs to ensure a livelihood for citizens.

Second, it should enable accessibility, allowing its residents to participate fully in daily urban life.

Third, urban life should be affordable, ensuring that urban infrastructure, such as housing, and urban services, such as health care, are affordable for citizens.

Fourth, it requires resilience, enabling people to withstand social threats such as crime or environmental impacts like extreme weather events. Finally, at the highest stage, urban life has to provide for livability, which allows people to fully enjoy what their city has to offer.

Published by Eco-Business, read the full article here.

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