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Designing for Bushfire Protection

By Julia Bell and Kathryn Cuddihy

The ‘Victoria State Bushfire Plan’ states that Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world with a history of catastrophic bushfires.

The recent spate of fires over the summer months has brought planning and building in bushfire prone areas into the spotlight in recent weeks. I don’t want to get into a debate as to whether people should rebuild in areas of high bushfire risk, people don’t generally move to these areas with blinkers on. However, many of these houses are holiday homes which means that they aren't necessarily maintained on a regular basis. If people are choosing to live or buy in these areas, they need to be aware of their obligations to meet regulations set out in the planning provisions to ensure that their property and surrounding land are protected as best as they can in the event of a bushfire.

Another aspect of bushfire is the urban fringes. As sprawl has occurred in recent years, some of those that wouldn’t expect bushfires to affect their property are now on the front line. It is important that they understand their obligations and ensure that their property meets planning regulations.

Image Source: thinboyfatter on Flickr
The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) have a section on their website that provides valuable resources and information to assist planning and building for bushfire protection.

Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) applies to land that may be significantly affected by a bushfire. If a BMO applies to your property, you will need planning permission for certain developments and new developments require bushfire protection measures. To find out the steps involved in applying for a planning permit click here.

On 31 July 2014 Amendment VC109 introduced changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes. To read more about the changes to bushfire planning provisions click here.

The DELWP also provides a series of handy practice notes that guides you through the planning process as easily as possible to ensure that items such as clauses related to landscape, siting and design, defendable space and construction and water supply and access are considered.

While it is vital to be vigilant in the lead up to and over the summer months and to have a fire plan in place and ready to enact if required, planning for future use can play a role in ensuring that your home and its surrounds are in the best position to survive a bushfire.

For further information as to how we can assist with you with permits, please contact Julia Bell  or call +3 9682 8568.

Planning for Social Interaction

By Claire Whelan

A comparison of two social housing projects in Winnipeg, Canada has analysed the possible reasons for the level of success of one project over the other. It is evident that despite the best of intentions, innovative ideas and quality architecture, one of the projects fails to create the desired outcome.

Image source: Archdaily
The lessons learnt can also be applied to planning for communal spaces more generally in residential development. Providing communal space is not as simple as showing it on a plan and assuming people will use it. There are some excellent examples of communal areas including practical uses that draw people to them, for example by incorporating clotheslines, barbeques, large dining areas and theatre rooms. In situations where the majority of apartments have limited outdoor living spaces these areas can be particularly useful to residents. That being said, there are also many poor examples of wind-swept roof terraces and uninviting concrete courtyards.

In all development, the emphasis should be on considering future residents, what will they want? What will they use? What will they need? 

Read more here.

The secret life of Paris

By Kathryn Cuddihy

The French capital’s Canal Saint-Martin is being dredged for the first time in 15 years, what is being unearthed from beneath the sludge is giving a remarkable insight into Paris life.

Image source: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Image source: Yoan Valat/EPA
90,000 cubic metres of water are being emptied into the Seine, a task that will take cleaners three months to complete. The last time the canal was dredged in 2001 cleaners found two 75mm shells from the First World War, safes, gold coins, washing machines, at least one car and 40 tonnes of rubbish.

On the first day, onlookers spotted a number of Paris’s VĂ©lib hire bikes, motorbikes, supermarket trolleys, a children’s doll’s pushchair, street signs and wheelie suitcases to name a few items.

Paris City Hall has warned against people climbing in to look for lost possessions.

So does rubbish say a lot about the people that live in the city and the city itself? Do you think that what has and will be found in Paris would differ greatly to the type of items that would be found in other cities of the world, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai or Sydney?

Read more about the clean up here.

Scaffolding Wins

By Mark Sheppard

Sick of walking beneath gloomy, unattractive scaffolding looming over footpaths alongside building sites? In the most intensely redeveloping parts of our cities, where scaffolding is most frequent, it significantly detracts from the quality of the public realm. Why does it have to be so utilitarian?

Perhaps it doesn't. The New York Building Congress has conducted a competition to redesign scaffoldingThe winning designs maximise natural light and air, maintain shopfront visibility and bring an artistic quality to the temporary structures.

Which is your favourite?

Image source: New York Building Congress 
Image source: New York Building Congress  
Image source: New York Building Congress