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

All night long

From January 2016, PTV will embark in a wild experiment by running the public network all night long on weekends. Although the budget has already been blown out, this transport trial is good news for a cultural city such as Melbourne and proves that we can step out of our comfort zone.

The year trial will see not only trains, trams and buses will run all night but also coaches to regional centres (V/Line). This will provide services to shift workers, Melbournians and visitors who do enjoy the city by night. It will hopefully boost the city by creating more jobs in relevant sectors of the economy.

This impressive operation will provide trams every 30 minutes and trains every hour departing from Flinders Street Station. It is also an opportunity to improve the existing NightRider service by improving the connections from train stations and suburban night-time destinations such as Brunswick.
Image source - The Age

Watch this space!
Read more here

Creating child friendly cities

This topic comes up from time to time in our Plantastic blog. How do we create cities that accommodate and meet the needs of families and children? Sustainable Cities Collective compiled a list of ten ways that we can build child-friendly cities.
Image: Alastair Campbell

The benefit of city life comes with the proximity and accessibility to services and amenities. As more people choose to live closer to cities, we need to create a mix of different types of compact housing to allow more density. A mix of housing options needs to be considered to accommodate future growth.

Family-oriented housing
Homes need to be designed to meet the needs of families. This includes apartments and houses that accommodate growing families in family-friendly neighbourhoods, close to open space and amenities.

Access to schools and childcare
Families require access to good quality childcare, primary and secondary schools (ideally in walking distance) so there isn’t a need to move further out to the suburbs to meet schooling requirements.

Access to public transport
Good public transport systems reduce the need for car use. Families who live near public transport and can connect with other forms of public transport to complete a journey can reduce the need for a car.

While being able to walk to a destination is great, creating an enjoyable journey that allows families to walk in a safe and timely manner can be as important as the destination itself.

Again, being able to enjoy a safe and timely journey is important for families. Creating a series of connected bike lanes and paths (away from traffic) allows children to gain confidence.

Access to open space
With limited backyard space or no backyard space in the inner city, children need the freedom to run around and ‘be kids.’ Ideally, open space should be easily accessible by walking. Urban forests, community gardens and parks all increase wellbeing and help families to connect to the local community.

Access to amenities
Cities provide great access to a range of amenities like community centres, libraries, public pools and playgrounds. Families need easy access to these amenities to assist them in feel connected to the local community.

Public safety
Measures can be implemented to ensure a safe environment for children to enjoy their immediate surroundings while alleviating worry for parents.

Fun and whimsy 
Child friendly public spaces that allow children to interact with everyday objects. Public piano anyone?

Jillian has provided some great ideas as to how to attract and retain families in cities. Can you think of any further ways in which planners can create family-friendly cities in Australia? If so we’d love to hear how.

To read the article click here.

By Kathryn Cuddihy

Sorry, not sorry

I am guilty, and I refuse to apologise. Of what, you may ask? Well dear reader, on a daily basis I am guilty of that apparently heinous cardinal sin: slow walking. I’ve been barged as people try and squeeze past me. Friends have told me off regularly that my pace is annoyingly slow. Strangers have too.

To all of you, you may be pleased to find out about a trial run in Liverpool, England, of a pedestrian ‘fast track lane’. Yes, it is merely a marketing stunt put on by a shopping complex, but there does appear to be general trend: the more populous the city, the faster people walk. Big cities don’t seem to have a place for people like me on the sidewalk.

Image source -
I do wonder if such a scheme, especially one put up by a shopping complex, would be counterproductive to the city in the long term. After all, many large complexes are arranged in a way to keep you in the loop of shops to maximise the likelihood of impulse buying. They achieve this perhaps by locating the escalators in different places on each floor, or by having a different floor plate on every level. Such places are designed for you to slow down and look at sights and features, not for fast and efficient navigation (unless there’s a fire).

An active frontage depends on interaction between the building front and traffic moving past it. It relies on traffic slowing down and being enticed inwards. Move too fast and the chance for interaction disappears. You might miss that little thing in the shop window, or the scent of coffee and pastries from within.

When we design features that complement a space for movement, we need to design for the speed at which a user should be travelling through it. It’s why artwork on the side of a freeway appears so much larger and elongated on a plan than it feels in reality: something that would take 10 minutes to walk around zips by at 100km/h.

Therefore, when I’m on the sidewalk, I’m going to move at a pace that allows me to have these interactions if I wish. The world is a High Street that I’m browsing through and I’m going to enjoy the sights and sounds around me. I know that I walk slowly, but I plan around that because like you, I also have places to go. And yet, the walks are always interesting… I saw which trees were in bloom today, and that a new cafĂ© opened up down the street. And before you ask, no: I’m almost never late.

By Sean Hua

An Australian city with personality

Will cities of the future all look the same? Or by revisiting basic design concepts can we create a distinctive personality for a city?

Image source: Crikey, The Urbanist
Inspired by its sub-tropical climate, Brisbane City Council is heading back to basic design concepts in order to create a distinctive built form for the city centre. Caroline Stalker from Architectus (who was one of the most interesting presenters at the 2015 Urban Design Forum) has developed new high-rise podia typologies which adapt to the climate and locale conditions. This may lead to the creation of better sub-tropic cities as they are based on old architectural principles of porosity to light, air and integration of landscape rather than taking the standard podium tower approach.

Currently the standard podium tower forms in the city centre are making it an urban heat island in summer with the city becoming the hottest part of the metropolitan region. This type of form is currently applied to many cities, leading to a similar look with no distinctive character or identity.

The use of basic elements like the architectural style; use of material; layout of the building; and type of openings that respond to the climatic conditions of a place can contribute to making the built form of a city distinctive to other cities.

Read more:

Click here to read Caroline's research paper 'Beyond the Podium Urban Spaces for Tall Buildings in a Subtropical City.'

By Amruta Purohit

Essentials of Urban Design

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have released 'Essentials of Urban Design.' Written by David Lock Associates very own Mark Sheppard, Essentials of Urban Design explains the fundamental concepts of urban design, providing the understanding and tools needed to achieve better design outcomes.

'Essentials of Urban Design' by Mark Sheppard

Each chapter outlines the key steps in designing or assessing a different type of development. All common types of urban development are addressed, from infill buildings to whole urban growth areas, residential to employment uses, and centres to public transport interchanges. For each development type, widely accepted urban design principles are explained, and 'rules of thumb' provided.

It is a practical handbook that is liberally illustrated with diagrams, photos of 'good' and 'bad' examples of urban design and handy checklists for common urban design tasks. It will be a valuable reference tool for architects, developers, urban planners, traffic engineers, landscape architects, councillors, planning lawyers, planning tribunal members and residents concerned about development.

We'd like to congratulate Mark on his achievement.

Essentials of Urban Design can be purchased through CSIRO publishing.

One Million Trees

MillionTreesNYC is a PlaNYC public-private initiative set up to plant and care for one million new trees across the five boroughs. The initiative was set up to plant one million trees in a decade, this has recently been achieved two years ahead of schedule. This has increased the size of the urban forest in New York City by 20 per cent.
While 70 per cent of trees have been planted in parks and other public spaces, 30 per cent has been added by private organisations, homeowners and community organisations.

Image: MillionTreesNYC
This initiative encourages residents to get involved by adopting or volunteering time to plant trees. There are events set up to encourage the community to get involved and to learn more about planting and tree care. Residents who register for these events give away free trees to encourage the community to get on board.

Urban forests increase the wellbeing of those that live there as well as reap economic, health and environmental benefits.

In Melbourne, the council has created the Urban Forest Strategy to ensure the evolution and longevity of Melbourne’s urban forest. The strategy includes plans to increase tree canopy coverage from 22 per cent to 40 per cent by 2040, improve biodiversity and increase forest diversity.

To read more about the MillionTreesNYC initiative and more about Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy click on the links below.