London Underground - reimagined!

Alternates to the London Underground map

The Death and Life of...

Planning for our future (figuratively speaking)...

Urban greening in high density environments

Creating 'Vertical Forests' in high density residential developments

The Science of Sound in the City

I think I've harped on before about the importance of sound in the City. I'd previously thought however, that the sound of nature, the sound of birds and trees, is 'good sound' and the sound of the noisy city and angry neighbours is 'bad sound'. But this article at the Atlantic makes an intersting case for the importance of all types of sounds as an important part of our experience of the City.

Who lives in an apartment in Melbourne? I'd be interested to hear your experience of sound issues below. With Melbourne densifying so rapidly, I can't shake the idea that acoustic privacy is as crucial as inter-visibility issues, yet barely given any thought.

Either way, read on at the Atlantic.

Playground Made From Discarded Wind Turbines

Looks super fun. Netherlands, so many wind turbines they have to start turning them into playgrounds. Oh what a problem to have. Check out more here at Treehugger.

England Adopts a 50 Page National Planning Policy Framework

Green belt planning laws
From the Guardian:

Planning minister Greg Clarke has said there should be a presumption against the building of more out-of-town shopping centres, and insisted the green belt would continue to be protected, as he announced the biggest shakeup of the planning system for more than half a century.
The National Planning Policy Framework replaces more than 1,000 pages of planning rules put in place by successive governments with a single, 50-page document intended to simplify the system and kickstart more housebuilding and other development to create jobs.
The new guidelines, which came into force immediately, are built around a "presumption in favour of sustainable development", which planners are told should balance the needs of the environment, economic sustainability, social needs, good governance and sound science.
In concessions to opponents of last year's draft document, the new framework stipulates that brownfield sites should usually be developed before greenfield sites, and town centres before out-of-town sites. It recognises the "intrinsic value and beauty" of the wider countryside, specifically protects playing fields, and bars "garden grabbing" for development.

Very interesting stuff. Should Australia have a national framework? What would it include? Food security and agricultural land protection? City by city economic goals? Direction of population growth? Protection of more than just national and state parks?

Read more at the Guardian.

Before It Becomes A New Infill Suburb, A Temporary Use for GTV9 In Richmond

The iconic ex-piano factory and now ex-Channel 9 site in Richmond (GTV9), is set to undergo a pretty big transformation into a medium density residential suburb. You can see details of the proposal here.

But actual construction is still a while away, and in the meantime there's some amazing spaces that could be being used.

And they are! Dezeen brings the goods, and the pics. Check it out:

Read more at Dezeen.

Filling a Missing Link in Inner Melbourne's Bike Network

Bicycle Victoria brings us news and images of a floating bike link on the Yarra which will connect the Docklands section of the Capital City Trail to the Convention Centre footbridge. Check out this BV page for far more information.

The Importance of Parks in a Densifying City

An interesting and quite in depth article from the aptly named Sue Green at The Age examines the importance of parks and open space in a city that is rapidly losing its private backyards. Pressure on Councils to provide more, and better, open space is mounting and there are calls for funding to come from developers as well as governments to help meet the growing demand.

Read more at The Age.

Urban Planning For Dummies, Finally!

I think Urban Planning has just gone mainstream. Why did I waste four years at Uni when I could have just read that!

Have a look at some of these great things we can learn:

Open the book and find
  • How to create a sustainable community
  • What resources are needed to make a good plan
  • How to find useful information about your community
  • The challenges facing today's cities, suburbs, and towns
  • The role of urban planning in developing countries
  • How to get hands-on experience
  • Ways to improve and enhance your community
  • Real-world examples

Like the sound of that? Buy it on here!

Young Planners BBQ on the Yarra Friday 16th!

For the Young Planners or the Young at Heart:
Join the Victorian Young Planners for their first event of the year! A great way to network with fellow young planners and wrap up the week with a barbie. Drinks at Beer Deluxe to follow, 8pm onwards.
For more information please download the flier, or call the Victorian PIA office on (03) 9347 1900

An Unfortunate Problem in Melbourne's CBD

You may have seen the report in The Age about a development proposal in the CBD that would result in the creation of a ~100m deep vertical shaft between two buildings. This shaft would be the only source of light for 48 unlucky apartments and their inhabitants. 

The Age's report on the issue is here, looking at how this has affected one grumpy-faced man who's apartment is set to be 'built out'. The article is perhaps overly emotional, appealing to peoples sense of outrage with density rather than fully explaining the situation.

Alan Davies over at Crikey's blog The Urbanist does a far more balanced job of explaining how this came about - and the lessons for high rise development in all Australian cities. Alan explains how the problem is not so much with the new proposal - which appears to be a fair and reasonable design, it's in the fact that the neighbouring tower got a permit in the first place. 

Quoting extensively from Alan Davies:
The Highbury proposal might well be extensively modified on other grounds – height, set-backs, heritage, etc – but probably not because of the impact of the light well on Wills Court. Highbury appears to be within their rights on that score. However if the development does go ahead as proposed, the poor outcome for the 48 apartments in Wills Court – and that is by far the main negative associated with the Highbury proposal –will primarily be the result of Council’s failure to look after their interests.
I don’t think this stuff-up is due to density per se. These sorts of problems can happen anywhere including the suburbs. The peculiar issue with high densities however is many more people are directly impacted by a stuff-up.
At the end of the day, this whole saga is a lesson for every Council. You MUST consider 'equitable development' when examining each new proposal. Developers must provide for the fair and equitable development of all neighbouring lots. This is a complicated issue of urban design, there is no simple tick-box for this type of assessment. If you're not sure, engage an Urban Design expert! 

The permit was denied for a number of reasons by Council, and is making its way to VCAT on appeal.

Public Transport Needs Billions Says State Auditor-General Des Pearson.


In other news, the Pope's a Catholic.

The Age reports:

PUBLIC transport in Victoria has been dragged down by years of poor management and planning, and needs an annual injection of $3 billion if it is to cope with growing demand, according to a report by state Auditor-General Des Pearson.

The report, tabled in State Parliament yesterday, found that public satisfaction with trains, trams and buses has declined in the past decade, and that all modes of public transport have regularly failed to meet government performance standards. The worst decline in satisfaction was for Melbourne's trains, the report found.

Read More.

Vertical Garden Tower Update

Remember when I told you that they were actually building one of those crazy concept ideas, a vertical garden/park in Milan in this case. I bet you didn't believe me, but look!

Sure, it looks like a bit of a concrete monstrosity at the moment, but i'm confident it'll look amazing once they get the trees in. Apparently the additional cost is a mere 5% of the project.  

Fed Square East - Video of Proposed Expansion

From the YouTube explanation:

Client: Major Projects Victoria Architect: Lab Architecture 
Scharp was commissioned to produce several aerial views and a flythrough movie presentation of the Federation Square East project which is currently in the masterplan phase. The masterplan utilises the space above the Jolimont railway yards east of Federation Square to expand this vibrant precinct just south of the Melbourne CBD. The proposal includes a market hall, retail opportunities, a boutique hotel and commercial developments surrounding a major green urban park used for festivals, exhibitions and entertainment.

Very interesting design proposal. What do you think about the amount of parkland? Is that a waste of land given the high cost of 'decking' the rail lines? Or is more park what we'll need as the rest of the city grows upward?

My only slight concern is that the emphasis on a large 'group gathering' area might split the focus from Federation Square as it is today?  

Check the video out here.

Caseview Introduces Map Based VCAT Search (Thank God)

Rejoice ye of the planning or related professions for a savior has emerged! No longer will we toil at the hands of the incomprehensible Austlii search algorithm!

Caseview is a Google map based VCAT search database. You enter an address, it gives you every nearby VCAT decision for whatever period you specify.

It's such a simple idea, I just can't believe no one did it earlier. Austlii is great and all, and provides a great service, but no one actually enjoyed spending 2 hours trying to find relevant decisions right?

Anyway, enough talk: