Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Urbanity Down Under

Dateline: 4:42 pm November 15, 2008 Filed under:

I was captivated by a lecture given last year by Jan Gehl, a noted architect and urbanist whose firm, Gehl Architects, is based in Copenhagen. I did a little research on his work in Melbourne, Australia. The result of that research appeared in the October issue of Urban Land magazine. Read Melbourne Reborn here.

The city has rejeuvenated its center over the past 25 years with a combination of planning and incentives. What I like most about the process is the surveys the city has conducted every ten years to track changes to the quality and livibility of the urban environment, such as pedestrian counts, number of sidewalk cafes, new housing, parks and open space, etc. That research was completed by Gehl’s firm.

The real story is the dramatic change that has occurred since the early 1980s. The article tells it well, but more photographs will help. The city provided dozens of images, only a few of which were published. The remainder can be seen using a link to Picasaweb here.

Also mentioned in the article is a notable green building, called CH2, an office tower for city staff, opened in 2006. It has a six-star rating by the Australian Green Building Council, which is equivalent to LEED Platinum in the United States. Among its green features are photovoltaic cells, gas-fired cogeneration, and a variety of heating and cooling methods, including a “shower tower,” which uses evaporative cooling to reduce energy costs. See some photos and diagrams of green components here.

There are lots of lessons to learn from Melbourne. Improvements to the public realm such as improved streetscapes, bike lanes and parks have made Melbourne much more livable, walkable and bikeable. I have not visited but intend to some day. I will, of course, walk or ride my bicycle to get there….

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.