Shaping Cities: The Design Imperative

The 2018 International Urban Design Conference will be held at the SMC Conference and Function Centre, Sydney, NSW over 12 – 13 November.

The conference will showcase innovations in projects and research embracing and creating transformational change in urban environments.

Joining us at the conference as a keynote speaker is Ms Caroline Stalker,Design Director Urban and Principal, ARUP Australasia (QLD) who will present on ‘Shaping Cities: The Design Imperative’.

Caroline’s Bio

Ms Caroline Stalker

Caroline is a highly skilled designer, communicator and leader of teams for complex urban design and master planning projects. Her career spans 30 years and a range of project types, including new communities, urban regeneration around transport hubs, city and town centres, universities, public spaces, public buildings, mixed use and multi-residential buildings. Throughout her career Caroline has demonstrated a sustained commitment to enhancing people’s connection to the natural world and each other through design, and an outstanding ability to take an holistic approach to the complex design problems of cities. This has been recognised over the years through numerous architecture and planning awards. Caroline is an Adjunct Professor, School of Design, QUT Creative Industries, and has served on and chaired awards juries in both architecture and urban design, and held advisory roles for government.

Abstract

The vast majority of Australians live in places that are untouched by the hands of architects, urban designers, or landscape architects.  Following a childhood in Australia’s great laboratory of urban ideas, Canberra, the idea that the city is shaped by intelligent acts of design seemed the norm to me – until we moved to Brisbane in the late 70s.  Sitting tidily at the opposite end of the city design spectrum from Canberra, late 20th century Brisbane, like other Australian cities, was growing at pace, shaped by the twin forces of escalating private car ownership and use and unshaped urban expansion.   The imperative for design in these two examples represent two extremes: the ‘top down’ design-led city vs the un-designed city of laissez faire individualism.  Each instance paints a different role for design and the designer; prime author or minor player on individual sites.

These days we talk about city design as a collaborative act, a complex deliberative democracy where disciplines and stakeholders sit alongside one another. This more civilised response to urban complexity brings with it important opportunities for integration, multi-disciplinary and multi stakeholder engagement.  The role of design and designer is to provide a platform for this collaboration.  However, reflecting on 30 years of design practice, the great majority of work has also required applying clear and strong design thinking to retrofit ad hoc urban development that doesn’t work well as an urban environment.  The driving imperative here is to structure unstructured settings, provide the unifying community glue of public realm where there is none, and create a distinct whole place for people out of fragments of land so that people can occupy the resulting spaces in new ways.  It’s always collaborative, it’s always complex.  But the collaboration has always needed filtering through a powerful design framework that orchestrates the pieces and the complexity. Without strong design thinking as a platform for bringing together the collaborative effort, the ‘whole place’ puzzle remains unsolved.

As the 21st century unfolds, we have a new raft of megatrends that are shaping cities, while we are still dealing with the legacy issues of 20th century urbanism.  These include the emergence of the digital disruption in transport, retail and work practices, and changes in urban energy systems and our changing urban demographics.  These shifts all demand new thinking, new approaches, new policies to response.  Increasing complexity demands more collaboration, more integrated layers of expertise.  With these demands comes an even greater need for the organising and humanising layer of strong design in shaping cities.

The paper will present project examples from Arup’s global portfolio to illustrate design imperatives in contemporary city making.

For more information on and to join us at the 2018 International Urban Design Conference, please visit the conference website at urbandesignaustralia.com.au

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Prefab construction is a godsend for disaster response

Prefabricated construction techniques show promise as long-term solutions for rebuilding disaster zones in remote and rural locations, according to Monash University professor Mehrdad Arashpour.

As long as thought goes into the location of prefab buildings – such as their proximity to water sources – modular, off-site construction can be viable long-term residences in disaster zones, Dr Arashpour told The Fifth Estate.

Prefabricated, self-contained buildings are also sustainable options for short-term disaster relief as they can be continually reused, Dr Arashpour said. In disaster-prone locations, such as Japan, ready-made modules can be built cheaply, stockpiled until needed and then assembled at speed. Japanese prefab company Daiwa Lease, for example, has set up a production line in emerging Asian countries that can divert product to Japan when a disaster happens and homes are needed.

Critically, the modular, panellised nature of prefab construction means that buildings are reconfigurable and easily adapted to be used as temporary schools or medical clinics instead of housing, for example.

Another benefit of prefab buildings is that they can be installed with minimal skills and tools.

Sustainability benefits include a lower carbon footprint and high thermal performance, Dr Arashpour said.

He added that the thermal performance of most modules work best in cool climates, although they can be used in warmer locations.

Most prefab buildings are also easier to recycle because they are quick to dismantle.

Prefabricated construction techniques are finally getting attention after decades of failing to penetrate the industry in any meaningful way.

Dr Arashpour said prefab take-up would become an increasingly attractive option once a more integrated construction, manufacturing and transport process is established.

“We need high-precision manufacturing and this needs to mimicked at site, with the correct dimensions… We haven’t quite nailed the practical implementation.”

Originally Published by The Fifth Estate, continue reading here.

Robina Crook: Universal Design Thinking

“My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair,  but because the broader environment isn’t accessible.” –Stella Young – Australian Journalist, Disability Rights Activist and Comedian

As we collectively look for ways to create a more sustainable future, it is vital we include our built environment. Without considering all, we risk condemning the most vulnerable of our community to an unsustainable, inaccessible world. By embracing Universal Design Thinking our urban places will accommodate everyone; you, me, young, old and those with disabilities.

universal design thinking
Robina Crook

Curtin University has made a commitment to a sustainable future for all by establishing a vision to be the most accessible campus by 2030. The main Curtin University campus is located in the suburb of Bentley, Western Australia. Curtin is a large low rise, low density university, predominantly built in the 1970s with a big vision.

Due to the good fortune of location, Curtin is perfectly placed to provide educational services to the South East Asian student market. Over the next 10-20 years, Curtin is embarking on an extensive programme of development that will fundamentally change the nature of the Bentley campus. The campus will function as alternative city centre with a diversity of functions and services, not just a location of tertiary education. The adoption of the Universal Design Thinking approach is one of the key strategies that designers, architects and planners are required to address when tendering for work at Curtin.

There are 50,228 enrolled students at the Bentley campus, supported by some 4,041 staff made up of academics, administrators and contractors. Over 16,376 of these students are international. With a large student body, Curtin hosts numerous events, festivals and graduations on campus, attracting thousands of visitors to the campus each year. Curtin is a fabulously rich and diverse community.

In Australia, 18.5 % of the population report as having a disability, this means that some 11,800 people will want to access the campus that could also have a disability. These figures do not even address the very porous state of temporarily able-bodied. Live long enough and you will almost certainly enter a state of disability at some point in your life.

As a public institution, Curtin University is required to meet the Disability Access and Inclusion Legislation requirements however Curtin has established a vision that is more welcoming and inclusive than the legislation. Curtin University has adopted a smart approach. The Curtin Universal Design Guideline – Built Form project provided for a high level of participation engaging with 65 stakeholders underpinning a strong sense of ownership. The process deliberately aligned with the vision, established agreed principles and created design criteria. The guideline has also been embedded in a governance process that integrates Universal Design Thinking into all stages of place making.

By Ms Robina Crook, Associate HASSELL

Advice From A Global City Expert

Did you know that 60% of the cities we will need by 2030 are not yet built? Thinking about this is both exciting and daunting (often not in equal measure). ‘Smart city’ is today’s trendy buzzword, but it is one that has various meanings depending on who you ask. Many believe that by creating smart cities we will inevitably address the challenges that our future cities face, but is this really the case? Are smart cities necessarily sustainable?Agneta Persson

With over 35 years’ experience and as WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Global Director for Future Cities,  Agneta Persson has a vested interest in the future of the world’s cities. She has had a significant hand in a number of ground-breaking projects in her home country of Sweden, including the Royal Seaport in Stockholm – a place which is expected to be fossil-fuel free by 2030 and the new Brunnshög district in Lund, which is set to be one of the most advanced scientific hubs in the world.

But if you ask Agneta about smart cities, she’ll tell you that she’s not particularly fond of the phrase.

“I prefer the term ‘wise city’ because ‘smart’ is not necessarily best. Simply adding resources to cities for the purpose of making them smart won’t always provide added value.

“A sustainable city is always smart, but a smart city is not necessarily sustainable.”

So, how can we go about assessing the value of adding resources?

“You have to start with an early multidisciplinary analysis, keeping in mind the development goals you want to achieve. Then you establish what the most important areas are; is it infrastructure, is it property? From this you find common themes, identifying where there are synergies between different disciplines and what type of resources we should try to promote as well as identifying any conflicts of interests which need to be dealt with.”

When done well this offers a possible solution to many of the challenges that our cities face; one of those being climate change, which Agneta believes to be the most pressing issue facing our global cities.

The power of the people

Speaking to Agneta about future cities, you’ll note a reoccurring theme – the importance of effective stakeholder engagement, particularly in the planning of new developments.

“It is always important to understand who the most powerful driver is and what’s in it for them so you can develop and present a solid business case when starting discussions. This way you can ensure that the work that you’re doing will provide meaningful value.

“We also need to ensure that we plan around the citizen. In our industry we tend to assume a lot about what people want and how they want it. But we need to understand their preferences, and be more proactive in talking to them.’

Such proactivity has been successfully practised in WSP I Parsons Brinckerhoff Canada where they have implemented a ‘tactical engagement’ program, as Agneta explains.

“The program allows us to analyse specific demographic groups affected by a proposed development and enables us to engage with them in a manner that is suitable and convenient for them. For instance, setting up a 7pm meeting in a council hall would not be useful if the key demographic you wanted to speak to was working mothers.

“Tactical engagement enables us to find where our key demographic is so we can meet with them to discuss their view and what’s important to them. This is an ideal situation because both parties leave the meeting better informed.’” Aside from citizens, Agneta also talks about the benefits of fostering for greater collaboration between different stakeholders including property owners, infrastructure owners, developers, architects, government, traffic planners, businesses and the academic world.

Sustainability in Sweden

Sweden is often hailed as the world leader in sustainable urban planning and design. In a country where landfill is illegal, city planners have been very resourceful, creating a system where waste can be used to produce energy.

Together with Sweden’s Green Building Council, WSP I Parsons Brinckerhoff developed an ‘integrated planning method’ for development that has been widely adopted throughout the country.

“The method is very powerful as it offers the possibility to reduce resource needs. It also assists towards identifying synergies and any possible conflicts of interest early on, avoiding future complications and associated costs.

“For instance in energy where we work a lot, the starting point is looking at the amount of energy we need, not how much we can produce.  First we start with energy efficiency in transport, and buildings, industry and infrastructure and then in the transmission and production of energy.

“We can create a circular economy with closed loops, where for instance we can make biogas, which can be used as fuel for vehicles from the organic waste. The remaining waste could then be used for incineration for electricity and heating or cooling. If we require additional energy supply, it should be produced from renewable sources; wind energy, solar, hydro power – whatever is deemed best.”

Agneta knows a thing or two about energy. She had a significant role in planning for the highly energy-efficient district of Brunnshög, Lund, chosen as the most appropriate location to house the world’s largest particular accelerator.

View the original article from The Urban Developer here.

Introducing Ms Sarah Baker

Ms Sarah Baker will be joining us at the upcoming 9th International Urban Design Conference at the Hyatt Canberra from Monday 7 November to Wednesday 9 November 2016.

Ms Baker will be presenting on the topic of Public and private benefits of competitive design processes in central Sydney.

Good design delivers a variety of public benefits. The so-called ‘design dividend’ links these benefits to positive financial uplift for property interests resulting from superior design. What happens when competitive design processes enter the picture? This presentation examines City of Sydney Council’s competitive design policy. We report a consensus in perception – as well as supporting evidence – that Sydney’s competitive design policy has generated a raft of both public and private benefits. Securing design excellence through competition emerges as an innovative regulatory approach to help ‘bridge the gap’ between public and private interests in city design and development.

Sarah Baker received her Master of Planning from UNSW Built Environment in 2014, and subsequently joined the faculty as a Research Assistant. Balancing practice and research, she also works in local government in Sydney.

Join presenters from 7 countries including Australia, China, Denmark, Hong Kong, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States this November. For more information and to secure your spot at the 9th International Urban Design Conference please visit the Conference Website.