Landscape Architecture

Posted November 25, 2019
  • Image: courtesy Robert Cameron, Cristina E. Ramalho and Julian Bolleter

What ever happened to (Australian) urbanism?

Department Chair, Richard Weller featured in ArchitectureAU

"With Australia’s population set to almost double by 2066, the handwringing over increased density and sprawl will only increase. Yet these circumstances offer architects and urban planners an opportunity for courageous creativity.

Endorsing density and crying crocodile tears over sprawl is routine in Australian planning. Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) recent white paper Future Cities: Planning for Growing Population (February 2018) isn’t too different. It models the impact of an additional 2.4 million people in Sydney and an additional 2.7 million in Melbourne by 2046 across three scenarios: 1) expanded low density, 2) centralized high density and 3) rebalanced mid density. To put these scenarios into the vernacular, you could call them the Nimby, the Yuppie and the TOD (transit-oriented development).

Taken as a whole, the policy settings for Australian cities average out to around 60 percent infill and 40 percent greenfield. But when you run the population numbers through these infill targets and focus on the designated TODs for each Australian city, you quickly see that the amount of development required to absorb the incoming population is truly extreme and highly unlikely over the longer term. Unless I’m misreading it, IA is really just saying that a lot of TOD and some Yuppie would be best.

What differentiates the IA report is the small print. Its authors don’t gild the lily. They try to tell us that in reality the future will be pretty much a rustier and more congested version of the present. If 'The Future,' urbanism’s favourite place, has lost its allure, then, like Rem Koolhaas in his 1994 essay, we need to ask, 'What ever happened to urbanism?'" 

Read Full Article from ArchitectureAU