Ellen Dunham-Jones fires the starting shot for the next 50 years' big sustainable design project: retrofitting suburbia. To come: Dying malls rehabilitated, dead "big box" stores re-inhabited, parking lots transformed into thriving wetlands.
Posted by: Andrew Hammonds
Thursday 2 February, 2012
Ellen's retro theme was central to my presentation to the Facilities Branch of a University yesterday.
We had a good discussion and concluded that they have a couple of 'embedded' campuses which have many opportunities to deliver placemaking outcomes and 'easy wins'. They benefit from being integrated into existing (or planned) centres, well serviced by public transport.
They have several suburban campuses, established in the 1970's. While strategically located, in a city context, they are isolated by environmentally significant bushland. While I acknowledge the challenges at these campuses - "necessity... is the mother of invention". We agreed that transport needs to be an integral part of the solution.
- buildings for small spaces - what can you do within the existing footprint, eg 3 storey town homes with separate units on the ground floor;
- gritty and grungy - look at temporary installations for cafes, shops, businesses, etc;
- place management - social fabric to encourage people to be there (free space for artists, markets, community garden, public art, etc);
- retro is hip! - celebrate the 70's and 80's;
- capital spending to focus on delivering private sector opportunities; and
- consolidate the triple bottom line approach to sustainability - not just trees.
With Commonwealth and state governments likely to tie funding for building, infrastructure and precincts to the urban design protocol they have an opportunity to position themeselves as leaders in suburban retrofitting.
I believe that a Placemaking approach can overcome the hurdles they are so familiar with.