The Inaugural Paul Mees Debate

On Tuesday 14 October 2014 the Sustainability and Urban Planning Program at RMIT, Melbourne is hosting the inaugural Paul Mees debate, to honour one of Australia’s foremost transport advocates and planning scholars, Dr Paul Mees OAM

Panellists will consider the topic:  

That public transport planning is too important to be left to politicians

Debaters are:

  • Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens, former Mayor of Maribyrnong and co-founder and former Chair of the Metropolitan Transport Forum
  • Mr Rod Quantock, Melbourne comedian and self-professed ‘failed architect’
  • Councillor Jackie Fristacky, Mayor of City Yarra Council
  • Associate Professor Wendy Steele, Principal Research Fellow at RMIT University
  • Professor Carolyn Whitzman, Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne
  • Mr William McDougall, Consultant transport planner, engineer and economist.

The debate will be held at the RMIT Capitol Theatre, 113 Swanston Street, Melbourne at 6pm on Tuesday 14 October, 2014.

For further details, including how to register for the debate see:

Happy PARK(ing) Day 19 September 2014

Parking Day logo upside down car with park growing out of it

Temporary pop-up parks and artistic installations are occurring worldwide today in celebration of PARK(ing) Day, these will transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

PARK(ing) Day started in 2005 when the San Francisco arts collective ‘Rebar’ came up with the idea that paying a parking meter is a bit like renting a public space, so instead of parking a car, why not park something better?

On the third Friday of every September, designers, creatives, planners, architects, landscape architects and anyone passionate about new ideas for their city, temporarily transforms on-street car spaces into creative places that make the street more enjoyable, attractive and sociable.

park in a parking spot, lady on sun chairSource: Romania PARK(ing) Day website 

Here are some links to PARK(ing) Day events:

For more information see the PARK(ing) day website.



ady standing next to man with high vis jacket with arms out - Utopia mini-series

Utopia is a new mini-series on the ABC following the dramas and office politics of the fictitious National Building Authority.

Story lines vary from investigating the feasibility of a very fast train (no surprises there!), an endangered grass threatening plans for a new container terminal and accidentally announcing that a community garden will be included within a waterfront development.

The plot borders on reality and will cover some familiar territory for Australian-based urban planners. Discussions are peppered with phrases such as “compact urban form is the buzz word at the moment” and the satire is further lightened with sub-plots of office dramas, including a communications manager with more energy than sense, performance reviews gone bad and numerous jabs at Gen Y employees.

For anyone who has worked in a government office, on major developments or just enjoys a good laugh this is a great satirical mini-series.

Episode 5 ‘Arts and Minds” is screening tonight (Wednesday) at 8.30pm, or you can catch up on missed episodes on ABC’s iview.

two men with poster boards behind of the very fast train



Australian Urban Design Awards 2014

The 2014 Australia Awards for Urban Design (AAUD) were announced on Monday 14 July at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. The Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) hosted the annual awards night, with 2014 Awards patron, Lucy Turnbull AO presenting the awards. Category winners were:

Delivered Outcome Award – Large-scale (two award winners)
New Acton Precinct, Canberra
Oculus with Fender Katsalidis Architects and client Molongo Group

Eagle sculpture in public space New Acton Canberra
Source: Oculus

Prince Alfred Park and Pool, Sydney City
Sue Barnsley Design and Neeson Murcutt Architects, created with the City of Sydney.

Palm trees at Prince Alfred Park and Pool

Delivered Outcome Award – Small-scale
Fremantle Esplanade Youth Plaza
Convic, City of Fremantle

skateboard arena FreemantleSource: City of Freemantle, Western Australia

Policies, Programs and Concepts Award – Large-scale (no award given)
Commendation: Pilbara Vernacular Handbook, Western Australia
CODA Studio with Landcorp

Pilbara Vernacular Handbook cover

Commendation: Darwin City Centre Master Plan
City of Darwin, Northern Territory Government, Design Urban Pty Ltd

aerial plan of Darwin

 Policies Programs and Concepts – Small Scale Award

The Goods Line, Sydney
Aspect Studios and CHROFI for the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority

Impression of the Goods Line precinct Sydney
Source: Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority

Commendation: Thinking outside ‘the box':
Key design elements for apartments in Ku-ring-gai
Ku-ring-gai Council Strategy and Environment Department

page of design guide for apartments
Source: Thinking Outside the Box 2011

Commendation: King’s Square Urban Design Strategy
CODA Studio with City of Fremantle and Creating Communities Australia

Renderings Kings Square

Sustained Contribution to Urban Design Award
Urban Voices – celebrating urban design in Australia
Editors: Bruce Echberg, Bill Chandler, John Byrne
For the first time, the judges were delighted to confer a special award for sustained contribution to urban design to the Urban Voices book.

The Australia Award for Urban Design was first presented in 1996 and is hosted annually by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), supported by the Australian Institute of Architects, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Consult Australia, Green Building Council of Australia, the Property Council of Australia and the Urban Design Forum.


I want to ride my bicycle – San Francisco brings ideas to Canberra

A great talk from Tim Papendreou who was visiting Canberra this week to promote all things San Francisco, cycling and active transport. An inspiring and encouraging talk about how to make change within bureaucracy despite the inherent challenges.

Papendrou provided a great reminder that cities are for people and that this should be the focus of transport planning. Seems obvious, but it is something that can get lost in engineering and design solutions.

Two interesting publications that he drew our attention to were the Urban Bikeway Design Guide and the Urban Street Design Guide.

Urban Bikeway Design Guide coverUrban Street Design Guide

We look forward to see what emerges next from his team of “plangineers” (what you get when you cross a planner with an engineer!) A theme that is catching, judging by the front cover of the most recent edition of the Institute of Transportation Engineers journal.

Engineers + Planners = Success coverpage


Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns

Recent travels around the UK and Europe have revealed to us how important street design is, in creating spaces that are comfortable, useable and aesthetically pleasing. How to create great streets is the focus of Street Design a recently released book by two accomplished architects and urban designers, Victor Dover and John Massengale.

Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns provides insights on how good street design can unlock economic value, increase happiness, improve health and reknit neighborhoods. In the United States the Complete Streets policy has been adopted by over 600 jurisdictions, with communities demanding beautiful streets where people want to be. Street Design provides a blueprint for how to meet that demand.

This manual for street design looks at hundreds of streets old and new, revealing what works and what doesn’t and the secrets behind designing beautiful streets and walkable places. Massengale and Dover have solutions for how to improve neighborhoods, cities, and towns: to make them walkable again. This begins with great streets where people want to be, where they feel comfortable, safe, and enjoy their surroundings.

Street Design is a useful handbook for urban designers, civic leaders, architects, city planners, engineers, developers, landscape architects, and community activists. It is ideal reading for any person who wants to make their community walkable and create memorable streets that are not just routes to someplace else, but great places that are destinations in themselves.

The guide includes information on:

  • how to design new streets and improve existing ones to create more walkable cities and towns
  • examples of more than 150 excellent historic streets, retrofitted streets, and new streets, explaining why they are successful and how they were designed and created
  • common street-design challenges and ways they can be addressed through placemaking
  • strategies for shaping space in the public right-of-way through correct building height to street width ratios, terminated vistas, landscaping, and street geometry.

With over 500 colour and black-and-white photos and afterword by James Howard-Kunstler, we look forward to Street Design providing a source of inspiration for creating better streets around the world.

Saltaire: a model village of the 19th century

Salts Mill

Saltaire in West Yorkshire, England is a UNESCO listed heritage site recognised for the significance of the town planning of the site. The planned model industrial village is largely intact and was influential in the development of the garden city movement.

Saltaire was named after it’s founder Sir Titus Salt, a wool mill magnate who was looking to improve the living conditions of his workers. His vision was for a new community where his workforce would be healthier, happier and more productive.

mill worker

Salts Mill factory worker in the 1800’s

Salt commissioned architects Henry Lockwood and Richard Mawson to design the village, with development commencing in 1851. The Salts Mill factory was the first building to be completed in 1853. The village surrounding the factory was designed in a classical style, inspired by the Italian Renaissance and included a school, church, town hall and a variety of housing types. Compared to typical worker’s residences, the housing was of a high quality with each residence having a water supply, gas lighting, an outdoor privy, separate living and cooking spaces and several bedrooms.

terrace housing Saltaire

Example of row housing in Saltaire

Saltaire proved significant in that it provided the model for similar developments, both in the United Kingdom and elsewhere including in the USA and at Crespi d’Adda in Italy. Ultimately the town planning and social welfare ideas manifested in Saltaire were influential to the 19th century garden city movement in the United Kingdom and internationally.

cafe in mill chairs and tables

Renovated interior of Salts Mill

If you are in this area of the world, a visit is well worth the effort. Not only will you be able to visit one of the original New Towns, but you can also enjoy the refurbished Salts Mill, now home to the David Hockney 1853 Gallery, as well as an amazing book shop, art store, cafe, restaurant and homeware store.