6 star dreams and industrial wasted-land

The concepts of ‘central business districts’ and ‘industrial’ ‘employment areas’ should be questioned for two reasons. The possible effects of the NBN and ICT more broadly on spatial decision-making has generally been overlooked.

Secondly, the exclusion of residential from these CBD areas, and commercial and residential from centrally located ‘industrial areas’ can be seen as holding onto redundant urban configurations, with little investigation of the efficacy of these policies, or of the consequences and potentials that might result from their removal.

Reservation of land in centres for ‘commercial office uses’ with high floor space ratios with the expectation that businesses and institutions will invest in these places and that a ‘polycentric’ city will emerge has failed in many instances. In parallel, policies for industrial areas have excluded residential and commercial uses, despite the finessing the definition of ‘industrial’ to include bulky goods retail. These policies, founded on antiquated notions of ‘zoning’ are derived from a mechanistic view of the city that is as odds with the heterogeneous mosaic of activities and living and working patterns that exist and continue to emerge. The policies can also be seen to be protective of the vested property interests.

Associate Professor Roderick Simpson is Director of the Urban Design Program in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney
Associate Professor Roderick Simpson is Director of the Urban Design Program in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney

The 6th International Urban Design Conference welcomes Professor Roderick Simpson of University of Sydney who will deliver this presentation at the event 11th – 9th September at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park.  Prof Simpson will examine examples of policies, precincts and research from Australia and internationally to postulate possible alternative futures for a number of areas in Sydney if current planning policies were removed: high density residential in accessible centres with zero car ownership and mixed-use mixed-up ‘enterprise precincts’ with very few planning controls in place of ‘industrial’ areas.

A shift in the way we conceive centres and industrial areas, and the way we hold onto conventional office and retail space could result in a city that is more adaptive and accommodating of the heterogeneous living and working conditions that are emerging.

Associate Professor Roderick Simpson is Director of the Urban Design Program in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney and principal of simpson+wilson whose work ranges across architecture, urban design and strategic planning. In 2007 and 2008 he led the urban design and spatial planning for the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Strategy which showed how the City of Sydney could significantly improve its environmental performance and liveability.

If you’d like to see Prof Simpson’s presentation you can register to attend the conference by clicking here.

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GENERATIONALLY SUSTAINABLE HOUSING: BUILDING FOR A MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY

Contemporary Australian society has been built on successive waves of emigration. As yeast is to dough, emigrants have brought incremental change to society is all its aspects. Each wave brings its culture which permeates and enriches the established structures and customs. While the new influences bring change to most aspects of life, the greatest resistance to change is accommodation.

Existing housing stock is both an attraction and an inhibitor of social adjustment for the family structures of migrant communities. In contrast to the nuclear family of twentieth century Australia, the newcomers come with extended families. Traditional alternative living arrangements are forcibly adjusted to the new environment, whether by preference or economic necessity.

The suburban environment continues to be formed by the single family house. The quarter acre block determined the form of Sydney’s suburban structure. The suburban grid is predicated on the social goal of the single family home, which in turn predicates the successive forms of increased densities. Strategic goals for the housing of Sydney’s growing population require the provision of a wide range of dwelling types to provide greater levels of access to both rental and owned housing. In the western tradition, a wide range of utopian schemes to restructure society in terms of work and home have been proposed since Fourier’s Phalanstere.

However, pre-industrial societies have always found means of accommodating successive generations with cultural variants of the extended family in China, India, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, and Islamic cultures and these means have informed contemporary practice. Australia now faces the challenge of moving from reluctant market led change to a positive adoption of alternative spatial models, of grasping the opportunity to harness the cultural capital of its contemporary society to reconstruct a generationally sustainable range of housing alternatives.

Peter Armstrong has a BA in archaeology and an honours degree in architecture and will welcome him as a speaker at the 6th International Urban Design Conference  being held from Monday the 9th to Wednesday 11th of September 2013 at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park.  Click here to attend.

Peter Armstrong Architecture Design and Planning at the University of Sydney
Peter Armstrong Architecture Design and Planning at the University of Sydney

Peter gained his master’s degree at Waseda University under Yoshisaka Takamasa and worked in the office of Kikutake Kiyonori before returning to Australia where he practiced as an architect for 30 years. His Ph.D dealt with the formative period of the Japanese castle town between the years 1586 and 1650. In 2006 he was decorated by the Foreign Minister of Japan and was made an Honorary Research Fellow of the Korean Government’s National Gyeongju Research Institute of Cultural Heritage. He currently teaches in the Faculty of Architecture Design and Planning at the University of Sydney.