Wahat Al Karama: The Oasis of Dignity

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 Chetana Andary, Senior Principal Middle East for UAP will be at this year’s Conference, discussing“Wahat al karama: The oasis of dignity”.

Wahat Al Karama, The Oasis of Dignity, in Abu Dhabi, treads a delicate balance between traditional memorial and place destination. Its role is far more complex than any monument may suggest. As a tapestry of interwoven meanings, symbols, emotions, memories and narratives, it is ultimately the creation of a new urban place to demonstrate unity in a highly disrupted society.

Chetana Andary

From nomadic Bedouin to modern metropolis, Abu Dhabi was a small fishing and pearling village until the influx of petrodollars. Its evolution from desert oasis to modern metropolis is fueled by significant nation building highlighting a place of contrasts where Sheiks take selfies and Westerners smoke shisha. Abu Dhabi, where the traditional culture is firmly rooted in Arabia’s Islamic traditions is also home to a massive population of expat workers now comprising nearly 85% of the inhabitants.

Cognisant of the contrasting urban fabric of a city in flux, Wahat Al Karama is presented as a conceptual metaphor as a place for reflection that is an attraction, place attachment and place identity. Commissioned by the Crown Prince, the memorial park covers 46,000 square meters symbolically located opposite the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. It contains a central plaza with a reflection pool that is emptied when hosting commemorative events of up to 1,200 people.

The dominant centrepiece is the monument, designed by British Artist Idris Khan. Comprised of 31 cast-aluminium tablets, the largest standing 23 metres in height, the tablets cascade and lean on each other to represent unified strength, power and pride among soldiers, loved ones and their country. With its impressive scale, the Wahat Al Karama represents the eternal martyr, a place of reassurance and defiance.

The presentation will follow the project from vision to realty, exploring the meaning of memorials, the translation of the term of martyr, and the creation of a new destination in a highly changeable Middle East.

This year, the International Urban Design Conference offers optional tours available on Wednesday 15 November. These will include visiting two of the precincts that have been designed and built for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast in April 2018.

Register here!

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Christchurch Rising – Landscape Driven City

Following on from the 2015 X-Section article Reimagining a City: 21st Century Landscape Architecture and the paper given by Mike Thomas at the 2015 6th Liveable Cities Conference titled Reimagining Christchurch City’s Post-Quake Public Realm: The Influence of 21st Century Landscape Architecture on the Rebuild, Mike posited that it is the work of landscape architects that will most consistently influence the appearance and social and economic success of Christchurch’s new post-quake public realm in the rebuild.  The following is a brief update on progress.

Mike Thomas

Christchurch is unique in New Zealand. Following the 2011 earthquake, it has started over. 70% of CBD buildings have needed demolition, services under the street have needed reconstruction and the city is now in a slow-but-steady state of rebuild.

A positive outlook of a city ‘beginning again’ has been the opportunity for the government to engage with the city and put in place an infrastructure rebuild using principles defined by its people. Cantabrians have asked for a green, walking, cycling city with public transport.

City planning has zoned the CBD into ‘Frames’ according to the activity of the district (e.g. innovation, health). A focus has been applied to developing the public realm and streetscape and so landscape architecture is playing a dominant role in shaping the character of the city centre – an evolutionary shift not a wholesale changeover.

This South Frame project consists of 20,000m2 of mid-block lanes and plazas across seven city blocks on major arterial routes in the city (Tuam/St Asaph and Madras/Antigua Streets). It’s part of a wider ‘Accessible City’ project which consists of 75,000 m2 of streetscapes containing 250 new street trees and 4,000m2 of rain gardens,   developed by a consortium of Jasmax, AECOM and LandLAB. South Frame’s construction began in 2016 and is now approximately 20% complete with work now proceeding at full pace.

A 12 metre-wide, 700 metre long, heavily planted Greenway collects, slows and treats storm water runoff with almost 3,000m2 of rain gardens. Designed as a setting for a creative new mixed-use precinct, connecting the Innovation and Health Precincts, the Greenway is a canvas for cultural expression in partnership with Ngāi Tahu; the local Māori tribe. A theme of this greenway is a “Story of Stone”, which features backlit pounamu (Jade/greenstone) pavement inlays, basalt laneways and boulders. The Greenway will be a venue for social activation and a safe movement corridor, particularly attractive to inner-city living and working.

The layout for the Greenway owes much to Canterbury’s beautiful braided rivers, pixelated to align with urban geometry. Local tree species, Kahikatea and totara, will rise above the buildings as future sentinels to help navigate the city centre. Ethno-botanical plantings with historical value to Ngāi Tahu will be planted, with identification tags.

Separated cycle-lanes and shared surfaces will enable safe cycling through the city, and connect to a regional cycleway network, the Peloton. Architecturally iconic Super Stops (for buses) are being fabricated, ready to play their part in a three-fold increase (by 2041) of public transport movements.

Construction of these projects is in full swing with a significant portion built by 2018.

By Mike Thomas, Principal, Jasmax 

Smart cities: the major barriers in the UK

Smart Cities will be a theme of The 9th International Urban Design Conference to be held at Hyatt Canberra, 7th-8th November 2016

Smart cities: A recent report commissioned by streetlight design and manufacturing company Lucy Zodion has found significant barriers to smart city development in the UK as reported by Cate Lawrence.

The report contains research into the opinions on smart cities of senior contacts from councils across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The in-depth interviews conducted in May and June 2016 gauged the appetite for smart cities among UK councils and opinions on a range of topics, from the biggest obstacles to smart cities to the most pressing priorities for councils.

It was revealed that the task of achieving smarter, more connected cities in the UK lies with local councils. With the National government’s drive for devolution, they are placing the responsibility on the individual council to take the initiative when it comes to improving their city.

Yet growing strains on public services and budgets could negatively affect the ability of all councils to dedicate the resources required to trial technology, progress smart projects, and identify the most cost-effective path to prepare our cities for the future.

The research identified strong evidence for a lack of understanding within councils from the outset; over 80% of the 187 councils did not have an appointed lead for smart cities, and many confessed to a low awareness of the topic and what it could mean for them. Common barriers towards progression were identified, from securing funding and resourcing at a time of budget cuts, to a lack of collaboration between services and departments hindering progress.

Despite the acknowledgement that smarter solutions have the potential to save money or streamline services, many councils less involved in smart cities struggle to siphon budget away from core spending (largely health and social care) and dedicate resources to progress smart cities projects and invest in new initiatives.

Without sustainable funding in place, smart city projects are failing to achieve internal buy-in, according to many councils. Research participants were asked how high a priority smart cities were on their council’s agenda. The overwhelming response was that, faced with budget pressures and shrinking resources, finding internal buy-in to progress with smart initiatives was an uphill struggle for many. To read more click here.

Smart Cities for the 21st Century

Smart Cities for 21st Century Australia – How urban design innovation can change our cities will be a theme of The 9th International Urban Design Conference to be held at Hyatt Canberra from 7th-8th November 2016 with optional tours available on Wednesday 9th November.

Registrations are now open. CLICK HERE to register for the Conference.

This years’ Smart cities theme, will focus on an understanding of what makes a city ‘smart’ from a urban design perspective and how the built environment develops during the city planning process.

Urban Design: Adelaide’s Tallest Skyscraper

adelaide-skylineUrban Design: A new 36-level project planned for Frome Street, just off North Terrace, in the Adelaide CBD is set to become the city’s tallest residential tower.

Developer Kyren Group has appointed Colliers International to market the slender mixed use building which is set to occupy a 4163sqm site at 11-27 Frome Street in the Adelaide CBD.

The project will yield 88 apartments, with the residential component of the building occupying levels 22 to 36 as reported by The UD.

The Frome Street development, which is currently before the Development Assessment Commission, features outdoor entertaining areas, an outdoor pool more than 10 floors up and luxury penthouses at the top.

Developer Kyren presented its design to Adelaide City Council last week in order to make Tavistock Lane — which runs adjacent to the development on the south side — a public lane.

Levels 11 to 21 will comprise 60 one, two and three bed serviced apartments, while the ground floor to level nine will be home to a hotel.

Colliers International’s Nick Pelvay and Aimee Guo have been appointed marketing agents.

Urban Design – Skyscrapers

“The residential and serviced apartments will have separate car parking, entrance lobbies, and lift access from the residential,” Mr Pelvay said.

The project will also incorporate a separate 21 storey student accommodation tower fronting Synagogue Place, which will incorporate approximately 268 beds with a ground floor cafe.

Mr Pelvay said the project would be integral to the activation of the eastern end of the Adelaide CBD, including the activation and development of a key laneway, Tavistock Lane. To read more click here.

Urban Design will be discussed at The 9th International Urban Design Conference; Smart Cities for 21st Century Australia – How urban design innovation can change our cities  will be held at Hyatt Canberra from 7th-8th November 2016 with optional tours available on Wednesday 9th November.

Registrations are now open for the Urban Design Conference. CLICK HERE to register for the Conference. Early bird closes 26th September 2016 so be quick to receive a discounted rate.

This years’ Urban Design theme, will focus on an understanding of what makes a city ‘smart’ from a urban design perspective and how the built environment develops during the city planning process.

Urban water cycle solutions across Australia

urban waterNSW has outperformed the nation in water efficiency and according to the authors of a new report the reason is its BASIX rating system for housing and the rest of the country should emulate it.

Dr Peter Coombes, principal of consultancy Urban Water Cycle Solutions said the benefits of BASIX has been wider than improving home efficiency; it’s given NSW the edge in resilience in terms of water use.

He said an analysis of the nation’s water billing and use data he undertook with Michael Smit from the Rainwater Harvesting Association of Australia clearly showed how well BASIX is working. While consumption and bills are both increasing in Melbourne and other cities, in Sydney costs for households have remained relatively steady, as has water use.

Dr Coombes told The Fifth Estate that BASIX requirements around water efficiency should be part of planning frameworks around the country in order to improve the resilience of the urban form.

The stumbling block  is that the grey infrastructure agenda around water has some deep-seated similarities to the economic and political landscape of the coal, mining and energy sectors. As with fossil fuels, the casualty is the sustainability of our cities and the hip pockets of the households in them, Dr Coombes said.

Looking at the Australian Bureau of Statistics Water Accounting data on a national level, the analysis showed Australian households spent $2 billion more on water in 2013/14 than they did in 2008/9. The consumption data also showed an average 27 per cent more water being used nationally in 2013/14 compared to 2008/9.

The difference between the Sydney data and the national picture, Dr Coombes told The Fifth Estate, is that the measures implemented under BASIX – including the installation of rainwater harvesting for homes, increased use of grey water systems and mandating water-efficient appliances and plumbing fixtures – are working.

“Water use in Sydney stabilised a long time ago,” he said. “That is because of the sustainable buildings in Sydney. The substance of the urban form has some resilience in it. There was a change in the urban form in response to water resources and liveability issues”. 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.