The National Capital Authority has responsibility for the care of the capital’s design features.
The National Capital Authority has responsibility for the care of the capital’s design features.
Particular major urban developments in Canberra have been promoted to be in line with the plans of Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin or somehow in the spirit of the Griffins.
When Marion Mahony Griffin provided those glorious drawings for the submission to design Canberra, she included a distant view of the mountains.
The south side of Franklin Street, Manuka, was shut off during November for several clusters of seats and tables on fake grass. It was apparently another of this government’s pop-up experiments.
This city is fairly ordinary when it comes to public architecture. There are a few exceptions, often Federal buildings and those on the ANU, but not many.
It has only been a few weeks since the local press bore tributes to Derek Wrigley (February, 1924 – June, 2021).
I begin this opinion piece about the National Capital Authority (NCA) by going back about 20 years to comments made during a parliamentary committee looking at the NCA.
A pamphlet arrived in Dickson letterboxes that won’t bring much joy to the other areas of the city. It announced that $3 million is to be spent on Woolley Street, Dickson.
Along with the wish the government would look after the city’s landscapes, its greenery and its open spaces, a common frustration is that the government does not understand design and does little to encourage good architecture.
Book Review: Killing Sydney: The Fight For a City’s Soul
Elizabeth Farrelly’s new book “Killing Sydney: The Fight For a City’s Soul” is a must-read for anyone with an interest in their local planning issues.
Attention to a significant piece of national land is being overlooked among the misinformation used to justify the demolition of West Basin.
A Reminder: the Australian War Memorial is about people
When in Civic around 10pm on Wednesday last week we were confronted with what the ACT government now defines as a Christmas tree.
Good journalism is welcomed and embraced. Journalism that is written to promote bad decisions by government must be called out. Here’s an example of the latter. The author, Tom Greenwell, starts well by making some points about Walter Burley Griffin’s planning for Canberra. But then he commits the crime of using Griffin’s name and visions to justify some outrageous developments being planned by the ACT Government (Urban Renewal Authority again!) that will destroy a wonderful part of the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin. Click here for the article in City News.
and for more about West Basin alternative facts – click here; includes letters from Richard Johnstone of kingston – a supporter of West Basin developments.
And for more on the arguments against what Tom Greenwell has written – click here for a very well informed piece by Penny Moyes, one of the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians.
All cities have their city square or equivalent.
It has been many years since I have wandered amongst the tulips of Floriade.
Have you taken a stroll around the Parliamentary Triangle recently?
Now here’s an idea. Should we recognise the worst architecture?
When reading the latest thought bubbles from the property lobby, it was difficult to avoid laughing out loud. In their quest to improve Civic business activity, the Civic property lobby has recommended that the ACT Government should hand over money to assist in the refurbishment of the Melbourne and Sydney buildings.
Here in Canberra there is a trend for larger urban space jobs for the government project managers to look elsewhere for the designers and consultants. As a result the city has had many design solutions that have not quite worked. We can do a lot better!
Over the years I have wondered about the placement of public art and memorials in and around the parliamentary zone. Here are three stories.
Canberra does not have a history of food carts. The nearest would be a double decker bus that opens at night time at the top of Braddon. Another would have been the now closed Brodburgers that was a very popular red caravan packed on the side of the lake. That was its problem – it was parked on land overseen by the fairly useless National Capital Authority (NCA).
The landscape architect, Mia Lehrer, has spent nearly two decades helping transform a mammoth drainage canal into a true urban amenity.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the country, and aircraft noise is a problem in the surrounding cities. Low-frequency ground noise created at take-off is especially difficult to combat because standard noise barriers are largely ineffective against it. Schiphol is implementing acoustical landscaping in the form of large ridges that dampen longer wavelengths.
Dealing with contemporary planning agencies has become a very stressful task for any person with concerns for their immediate and future urban environments.
The web site has limited information – click here. Still worth a look through the pages and images.
The celebration includes those women who photographed the gardens.
Now all I need is a ticket to New York to provide a review of the exhibition.
Paul Costigan, 24 May 2014
City main street networks show a drastic shift away from historic patterns of human-scale design
Have you ever wondered why some places seem built for automobiles as opposed to humans?
In a recent study, J. Alexander Maxwell and fellow researchers from the University of Strathclyde’s Urban Design Studies Unit find evidence that before the rise of the automobile, cities developed on a walkable “human” scale, with main streets that rarely exceeded 400 meters (a little more than 437 yards).
Along with Charles R. Wolfe, they argue that this uniformity reveals an underlying pattern to pedestrian city settings, which should be considered in contemporary urban design and policies.
In January 2013 Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, commissioned Sir Terry Farrell to undertake a national review of architecture and the built environment. The report is now available online.
Terry Farrell undertook this Review independently with his team at Farrells and advised by a panel of 11 industry leaders with a breadth of experience that covers education, outreach, urbanism, architecture, property and philosophy.
I remain skeptical about all the hype around green roofs and green walls. This is not to say that when delivered comprehensively, that green roofs can be very effective in reducing temperatures of the buildings. It is more that so many of the current crop of green roofs and green walls are token add-ons.
Despite the hype by the building companies and their contractors about how wonderful particular green walls and roofs are, many are superficial and deliver very limited benefit, if any. When done properly, a green roof can be a contributor to the green infrastructure of urban areas.
Happy City, Charles Montgomery, 2013
From the blurb online:
“A brilliant, entertaining and vital book. Montgomery deftly leads us from our misplaced focus on money, cars and stuff to consider what makes us truly happy. Then everything changes – the way we live, work and play in humanity’s major habitat, the city.” – David Suzuki
After decades of unchecked sprawl, more people than ever are moving back to the city. Dense urban living has been prescribed as a panacea for the environmental and resource crises of our time. But is it better or worse for our happiness? Are subways, sidewalks and tower dwelling an improvement on the car-dependence of sprawl?
Referring to a posting on The Nature of Cities: Involving Children in the Design of Park Renovations to Create Green Places for Play with Urban Nature
Locally there have been several wonderful initiatives that have delivered wetlands to local neighbourhoods. These developments were very much welcomed and have become destination for people taking walks.
The new wetlands were primarily established to become catchments for run off water that had previously been channeled into 1960s concrete drains straight down through the suburbs into the lake. Water is now being partially diverted along the way to provide storage as well as being piped off site to other large water tanks for other irrigation purposes.
Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation should assist anyone with their advocacy for Revitalizing Cities with Parks. In these times of reactionary governments and tight budgets, it is important to maintain efforts to introduce the simple idea to create more parks.
I was attending a meeting of combined community council two years ago, when to members of the public who were in attendance made very similar appeals. Both were very upset with the quality of the redevelopments that had appeared within their street, despite the local communities objections about key aspects of the developments.
As far as I could ascertain, they were not necessarily opposed to the infill of their suburb. It was more about the nature of the apartments being built.
Despite all the evidence and all the advocacy, our political leaders are still not up to the challenge of dealing with something that is a threat to life as we have come to know it here on this planet. True leadership seems to be in short supply these days.
There are a host of professions that could be showing much greater leadership. Many have learnt to be spin doctors and have filled pages with their commitments and their policies. All this is very nice and very polite.
If cities look to stay within their boarders, there is the need to seek acceptable ways to intensify the number of residents within the older suburbs. This requires an intelligent engagement with the present residents of suburban areas on a case by case basis.
Given the need to address climate change within the suburbs as they are being redeveloped and upgraded throws up a host of requirements that should have by now have been built into legislation. Sadly this is not so as most of the re-development and intensification as been left to laissez-faire market forces.
A woman’s right to enjoy the city
Dealing with the overlooked issue in Urban Design, Women and the City. As part of our series on eliminating violence against women and girls in our cities produced in collaboration with the Huairou Commission, Mumbai architect Pallavi Shrivastava offers a personal reflection on how the threat of violence forces women not only to change our movements but also prevents us from enjoying our cities, and thus from helping to make them the cities we want them to be. click here for the full article.
Public health and landscape: creating healthy places (November 2013)
The UK Landscape Institute believes that greater priority needs to be given to prevention of ill health in public health and social care. All those involved in creating healthy places, public health professionals, planners and landscape architects, need to recognise that landscape has enormous potential to improve our health and wellbeing. In Australia, despite all the evidence being available, it has been a struggle to have the Australian Government recognise the importance of the links between our public spaces and the population’s health and well being.
Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities
Design Strategies for the Post Carbon World, Parick M Condon
Questions of how to green the North American economy, create a green energy and transportation infrastructure, and halt the deadly increase in greenhouse gas buildup dominate our daily news. Related questions of how the design of cities can impact these challenges dominate the thoughts of urban planners and designers across the U.S. and Canada.
With admirable clarity, Patrick Condon discusses transportation, housing equity, job distribution, economic development, and ecological systems issues and synthesizes his knowledge and research into a simple-to-understand set of urban design rules that can, if followed, help save the planet.
No other book so clearly connects the form of our cities to their ecological, economic, and social consequences. No other book takes on this breadth of complex and contentious issues and distills them down to such convincing and practical solutions. And no other book so vividly compares and contrasts the differing experiences of U.S. and Canadian cities.