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Vibrant urban environments: some thoughts


Norrie, H, Vibrant urban environments: some thoughts, The Material City: Density and Design in Contemporary Australian Architecture, Dry Press Publishing, R Ringer (ed), Horsley Park, Australia, pp. 474-475. ISBN 9780994492920 (2019) [Other Book Chapter]

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Increasing urban densities underpin the development of larger cities, producing a variety of housing options and a diversity of use that lead to vibrant urban environment.

Few could disagree with this observation. However, in regional areas the aspiration to create more dense and vibrant cities is limited by a number of factors. Low property prices in regional cities reflect low demand, which in turn affects the viability of new models. 1n many regional cities the cost of a three-bedroom house 15 minutes' drive from the city centre is 70% of the cost of a two-bedroom apartment in the CBD. Why would anyone consider an alternative model of housing, especially in a market where housing is viewed as much as an investment as a home?

This creates certain dilemmas. Firstly, the housing market in Australia is biased towards an enculturated ideal of amenity associated with the 'Great Australian Dream' of a house and garden, with a car. Secondly. both the development and construction industries are skewed towards supporting this model. The subdivision of land on the periphery of towns and cities provides a low risk and high profit margin for developers. Further, the building industry has created efficiencies with standardised single dwelling construction that limit competition from other modes of housing.

With such an apparent disparity between cost and amenity, viable alternatives in smaller cities where you can still drive across town in 10-15 minutes, and park directly outside your destination, receive very little attention. There appears to be few gains in the trade-off between dwelling size and outdoor space. Besides, for the inner city to become sufficiently vibrant so as to offer an alternative to suburban living, there needs to be higher levels of critical density of services and the number of dwellings. Where to start, especially in view of the fact that in many regional areas house prices are so depressed that new apartments simply cannot compete in the market?

Item Details

Item Type:Other Book Chapter
Keywords:urban design, regional planning, urban design, medium density housing
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Urban and regional planning
Research Field:Community planning
Objective Division:Construction
Objective Group:Construction planning
Objective Field:Urban planning
UTAS Author:Norrie, H (Dr Helen Norrie)
ID Code:132552
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2019-05-13
Last Modified:2019-05-13

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