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

Game on in Cities: Fireflies to Play

Well wouldn't this be a fun?  'Fireflies' is a game that can be placed on screens in cities (like those attached to buildings), which interact with interested people passing by, via your phone.  The trick is to use the light on your mobile to target objects on screen, a bit like space invaders.

I haven't seen an example of this before, so thought it was worth sharing.  Check out the video to see how to play.

I can imagine playing this on a balmy summers night (come on already Summer!) while waiting for a train or your late friends to show up.  Could provide some opportunities for encounter in cities of the playful kind.

Read more here.

New Zones Update: Implementation Underway (Glen Eira)

Last month Glen Eira was the first of Victoria's local governments to implement the new zones, and two weeks ago, transitional arrangement were detailed. Earlier posts have looked at what the new zones will involve, but really, it all comes down to how the zones are implemented - of particular interest are the residential zones (summarised below):

Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ): Overall mandatory building height reduced from 9m to 8m and no more than 2 dwellings allowed on a lot (unless specified in the schedule).

General Residential Zone (GRZ): Includes a default discretionary height limit of 9m (equivalent to three storeys) which can be increased or decreased to a mandatory height limit by each Council.

Residential Growth Zone (RGZ): Includes a discretionary default height of 13.5m (equivalent to four storeys) which can be increased to a mandatory height limit by each Council.  ResCode standards will apply to four storey development.

The GRZ was intended as the 'default' zone, whereas NRZ was intended to protect areas of special, valued character, and RGZ for residential areas on main roads, close to activity centres where more intensive built form could be contemplated.

However, Glen Eira's implementation of the new zones has placed 78% of the municipality in the NRZ zone, limiting these areas to no more than 2 dwellings on a lot, and an 8m height limit.  The implementation was based on Glen Eira's change areas and diversity areas from strategic work undertaken almost a decade ago - you can see the map of the new zones in Glen Eira here.

There have been a number of discussions going around debating the implications of this - some have criticised the Council for adding to sprawl, particularly if other municipalities follow suit.  I think this is debatable.  It raises questions about how this fits with the Metro Planning Strategy discussion paper, which highlights the need to realise the potential of middle ring suburbs to provide more housing and employment opportunities.

Another consideration is that this manner of implementation could limit diversity of the municipality outside of activity centres.  Opportunities for low rise multi-dwelling development in residential areas that exist currently thanks to being well located to shops and services (and in keeping with the existing character) could be lost.  For instance, there are areas in Glen Eira such as along Alma Road, that have an existing character including multi-dwelling development (low rise apartment blocks), and this is the form of development that will suffer.  Under the new zones, remember only 2 dwellings are permitted on a lot, so no more low-rise multi-dwelling development in residential areas like this.  It also shows that the point of the NRZ (to protect character) is not truly being achieved, because it prohibits what exists in the character of the area it seeks to protect.  Important point here: low change does not always equal detached housing.

Aside from considering impacts on housing diversity, character and integration with the Metro Planning Strategy, concerns could also be raised about consultation and State government 'checks and balances' to ensure that Council's have the whole state's best interests at heart - not just their own residents.

Read the media release from Glen Eira here, check out a related Age article here or view Glen Eira's map of the new zones here.

Recharging Roads for Electric Cars

Roads that can recharge electric buses? Been there, done that says South Korea.

In July this year, the Korean city of Gumi brought out two electric buses that can power up from specially modified segments of the road.

Image from

Each 'charging' section of road has 180kW power sources embedded within.  Only 5-15% of the existing road needs to be rebuilt to accommodate the wireless charger, though each modified section costs about about $4 million.

This idea provides a potential solution to the issue of finding a place to recharge electric vehicles on the go. Although it may not be feasible in many places (given high costs and political support required for this), it could be great for heavily trafficked routes carrying lots of buses.  Surely it could also be adapted to suit electric cars as well.  Roads are getting smarter.

Read more here.

TEDCity2.0: Join in September 20

City 2.0 is a web based platform that aims to bring together stories, ideas and debates focusing on grassroots 'movers and shakers' and urban thinkers across the globe.

According to City2.0, there's a lot to look forward to:

The emerging image is a complex picture of the future city-a place more playful, more safe, more beautiful, and more healthy for everyone.
The platform itself groups different themes together, such as housing, art, public health etc, and then links to a series of posts, videos and other snippets posted from different cities around the world.  The platform was the winner of a TED award, and has resulted in the upcoming TEDxCity2.0 event, 'TEDCity2.0: Dream me. Build me. Make me Real' which is happening on September 20, and is streamed free from NYC.  According to organisers:

TEDCity2.0 is a day-long TED event for urban innovators, organizers, stewards and builders - with live speakers, global conversations and activities.

Aussie participants will need to stay up late, with the session running from 11pm-7am Melbourne time.  The event will feature an 'unexpected' mix of over 20 speakers over 4 sessions that will focus on urban ingenuity and interdependence from across the globe. 

TEDCity2.0 will focus on how bright ideas turn into collective impact—through talks, breakout sessions and satellite events globally.
Session 1 looks at 'Redefining Citizen', Session 2 is 'Reinventing urban experience', Session 3 is 'Reimagining the city' and Session 4 is 'Redrawing Geographies'.

Those who are interested are encouraged to host their own local event to coincide with TEDCity2.0.  

Read more here at the TED website, and here for more information on City 2.0.

Melbourne Design Awards 2013 - Vote for Us!

Our website has been shortlisted for the Melbourne Design Awards under the digital experience – website category.

The winners are determined by both a judging panel as well as the public, so we'd love it if you could take 30 seconds to vote for us.

Public voting closes on 12th September. Thank you and wish us luck!

Click here to see our entry and vote for us if you wish to.