The 9th International Urban Design Conference was held at the Hyatt Canberra on Monday 7 November to Wednesday 9 November 2016.
This years’ theme, “Smart Cities for 21st Century Australia – How urban design innovation can change our cities” focused on an understanding of what makes a city ‘smart’ from an urban design perspective and how the built environment develops during the city planning process.
Murray presented on Urban Design as a template for community-focussed residential development using the Oakover Square project as a practical example.
With the demise of manufacturing industry in Australia, large areas of Melbourne’s industrial land belt are now redundant and under-utilised.
At the same time the city is experiencing sustained population growth and needs to find homes for an extra 1 million people.
High rise residential development continues in the CBD, while opportunities are restricted in dormitory suburbs as community resistance to densification continues and outmoded zoning controls persist.
Murray was able to demonstrate, through a practical example in inner suburban Preston, how a significant surplus industrial site is being knitted back into its suburban context through smart and innovative Urban Design.
Inspired by the idea of a traditional village, the development provides a rich diversity of uses in a car free environment with its focus on establishing a “Creative Community”. The Oakover Square project provides an innovative urban response with a number of key moves designed to improve liveability.
The development convenes around a central public square which is supported by internal streets, lanes and pocket parks providing a series of gathering places within this multi-generational residential village.
Small retail spaces and SoHo suites activate the ground plane while natural pedestrian routes through the public realm connect to the existing grain. Vertical layering enriches the experience of the user, with multi-level greenery providing secluded havens as well as visual features.
Investment of social capital such as child care, aged care and affordable housing provide community benefits which allow floor area uplift. The additional accrued height allows an underpinning of the development with the necessary residential infrastructure.
Spatially, the urban idea is to organise a collection of different buildings around a central space, connected to surrounding streets. This idea is relaxed enough to allow each of the pieces its own character and an equivalence of urban space-making between buildings and open space.
The conference was a great success with a large turnout and very interesting and informative presentation. Baldasso Cortese would like to thank the organisers for opportunity to present.