Save Our Minds, Bodies and Souls, Not Just Our Town

Ms Robina Crook, Associate at HASSELL joins us at this year’s International Urban Design Conference to discuss  “Save our minds, bodies and souls, not just our town”.

A tale of how a small rural community taught their urban cousin a thing or two about “Building an Age Friendly Community”

When Ian McCabe, CEO of the Shire of Wyalkatchem, requested the Western Australian Planning Institute of Australia assist them to address the complex challenge of an ageing community, we jumped at the opportunity to help (1).

When you are the CEO of a local rural shire you are not just advocating for the citizens of a community, often you will have a personal connection. The Shire of Wyalkatchem is 194km north east of Perth. It is a community of only 516 souls in 314 private dwellings; with a handful of those dwellings forming the town centre. More than 46% of the “Wylie-ites” are aged 55 years or more, with a median age of 53 years. Ageing infrastructure combined with catering for an aged population is a major issue for the Shire.

Robina Crook

With issues associated with an ageing population becoming a daily reality the Shire of Wyalkatchem took the lead. They invited local government community development officers and chief executives from around the Western Australian Wheatbelt to address a common issue “Building for an Age Friendly Community”

The people of Wyalkatchem are predominately farmers and a few town’s folk, with no particular interest in urban design but a passion for community. They are however a very pro-active community. When the only butcher closed in town, the community came together (2). In drought stricken times, the farmers still managed to diversify and learn new skills becoming master chefs in all things meat. It was this determination to keep their community alive that has driven the decision to “Build for an Age Friendly Community”.

In a workshop environment, local government community development officers and chief executives embraced urban design philosophies to identify age friendly strategies for this passionate, be it small country town:

  • Guidelines for the Development of Dementia Friendly Communities (3)
  • Healthy Active by Design (4)
  • Healthy Built Food Environments (5)
  • Curtin University Universal Design Guidelines (6)

    This is the tale of David and Goliath, unperturbed by the massive challenge ahead a small town has started the journey to create the type of community they want to grow old in.

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. 

Secure your seat and register today!

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Sustainable Living in Community (SLIC)

A paper was presented at Urban Design Conference in November 2016 hosted in Canberra. A presentation was made regarding sustainability at the Conference which focused on urban sprawl and its impact on society. Further work has been carried out in this regards in New Zealand and the outcomes are encouraging.

Small groups of societies and specially education sector has started investing in the concept and trying to embed the thoughts in the younger generation. The aim of SLIC has always been about communities and making them self-sustainable. Let’s take look at some of the result yielding activities in New Zealand.

A community garden project has been initiated which has converted spare land into productive food supply source. Small patches have been allocated to community groups who take ownership of the patch and are responsible for management, maintenance and upkeep of that patch. The concept of recycle, reuse and reduce is used extensively. There is help provided with seeds, manure and organic growth technology to the patch owners.

Sustainable activity like rain water harvesting is actively promoted and supported through the area. One of the major advantage of these activities has been the involvement of DHB in this, along with community boards! DHB’s interest lies in the fact that gardening has proven to be a health benefit for physical and mental wellbeing. Change in behaviour as well as health has been observed in the active participants.

SLIC will take this further by introducing healthy living, healthy eating principles by lecture, demonstrations about food, cooking styles and its medicinal impact.

An educational institute has provided land for creating an urban jungle. Families can take advantage of the free land for growing their choice of vegetables. One of the important aspect has been to impart the knowledge and know-how of gardening and getting the interest of young children. This will create a long-term interest and future for sustainability. SLIC will encourage the participation and availability of such patches as these will provide not only fresh fruit and veggies but also create green patches across the urban sprawl.

Finally, we would also like to compliment the schools which are encouraging sustainability as a part of living and have taken pains to provide infrastructure and create interest among the young. One of the hardest part is involvement of the society and understanding the benefits of physical activity and its relationship to well-being. It is not all about cheaper alternatives at supermarkets but the ability to self-sustain and live in a harmonious society.

This article was kindly provided by Varsha Belwalkar, Consultant at Nirvana Consultancy Ltd

Place Planning Quest: Collaboration in the Process of Creating a Vision and Delivering an Outcome

Register now for the 10th International Urban Design Conference this November!

Ms Evy Anwar, Urban Designer at Northern Beaches Council will be attending this year’s event, discussing “How to communicate the ‘trade-off’ to create better places”.

Evy Anwar

Highlight of presentation:
• Place planning process focuses on the creation and evolution of places rather than a traditional land use-based structure planning.
• Place planning process led by a division called ‘Place Management’ which oversees the mechanism and synergy of places.
• A series of programs were created as part of community engagement and education about creative placemaking, how to address future challenges, and being involved in the creation of a liveable community.

Aims:

• To promote a more inclusive way of planning future places
• To appeal to a wider section of audiences in the new trends of creating and building towards liveable communities
• To capitalise new infrastructure investments such as better public transport (the B-Line)
• To create more people friendly places rather than a ‘car-oriented’ destination

Methods:

• Extensive community engagement programs: discussions involving local and international experts, workshops, walking tours, placemaking events, etc
• Evidence-based analysis using urban infometric and traffic modelling to focus on creating better people spaces

Relevance:

• Place plan scenario includes behavioural and gradual lifestyle changes as well as the exploration of new ways in conducting day to day activities
• A variety of temporary intervention was incorporated as part of the place planning process to disrupt the usual approach in interpreting and using public spaces

Results:

• Deeper understanding about what is required for developing better places. Notwithstanding some people may still have difficulties to accept the ‘trade-off’ required to improve the quality of spaces.

Conclusion of the work:
• Gradual changes and temporary interventions can be more palatable for communities which uphold a certain lifestyle. Stronger support and direction from the government is crucial on long term commitments and solving the bigger planning issues such as addressing housing affordability.
• The place planning process needs to fulfill the requirements of our planning system therefore Place Plan must be adaptable as a ‘master plan’.

 

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.