The Australia Urban Design Award was instituted as one of the far-sighted recommendations of the 1994 Urban Design Task Force set up by the Keating government. Despite the importance of cities to the Australian economy, no other Federal Government before or after Keating has demonstrated a similar level of interest in, and commitment to, the importance of urban design excellence. The Award program is now in its eleventh year, and it’s encouraging to reflect on this year’s entries and winners as testimony to the fact that the appreciation of good urban design in Australia is maturing in exciting ways.
It is worthwhile to reflect on the importance of Awards in supporting the commitment and optimism of all design professionals striving to make the world a better and more sustainable place - often against heavy odds. In the face of a dogma of denial, for example where urban sprawl is touted as ‘good for us’ by our most senior Federal Government politicians, this year’s Award winners eloquently defeat faddish arguments against good planning, and reflect a rising demand for careful, creative design. However, the Jury noted a paucity of entries demonstrating excellence in the design of our sprawling outer suburbs.
This Award is unique, bridging at least three environmental disciplines that draw on the interrelationships between landscape, built form, and movement. This year, the Jury gave two Australia awards and three special theme awards.
The Balaclava Walk and Community Housing project
The lead designers were MGS Architects, and the client was the City of Port Philip. Port Philip Council inaugurated a program to provide shelter and affordable accommodation throughout the community, which gave rise to this small-scale example of urban regeneration.
The block-scale program provides for now completed rooming house accommodation, as well as for new shops, local parking and bicycle storage. It also improves access to train services while removing dangerous and neglected areas. The built form presents a fresh and eclectic face, and relies on visual surveillance principles to reduce the risk of street crime. Artists Ben McKeown and William Kelly (also see article on page 2), ESD specialists, and property consultants were all an integral part of the design team.
North Terrace Redevelopment, Adelaide
The lead designers were Taylor Cullity Lethlean, and the client was the City of Adelaide. North Terrace has been taken for granted as Adelaide’s premier boulevard, but in reality the public spaces were somewhat neglected. The new world of open spaces, fountains, surfaces, artistic indulgences, sombre statements, trees and flowers are distinctly and tastefully conservative. The project reinforces Adelaide’s cultural pride and economic strength, and adds to Taylor Cullity Lethlean’s strong record of accomplishments.
The Education Award went to the ‘My Neighbourhood’ project, sponsored by Landcom, New South Wales, with credits to Nectarine, Annand Alcock Urban Design, and Gabrielle Morrish Urban Design.
The Publication Award was given for a pair of compendiums authored by Professor Alexander Cuthbert and published by Blackwell: Designing Cities (2003) is a selection of rich and variegated published clippings assembles literature relevant to the subject. The Form of Cities, (2006) is a critical introduction into theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of the practice of urban design.
The Public Domain Award was given to the Sandridge Bridge Precinct Redevelopment. The lead designer was the Design and Culture Division, City of Melbourne, with artist Nadim Karam and Atelier Hapsitus, Beirut, Lebanon, and the client was the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment and the City of Melbourne.
Also in UDFQ 76: December 2006:
- First Australian Green Roofs Conference
- Toronto Walk 21, 1-4 October 2007
- Falling out of the silos
- Orewa Design Forum
- Universal Mobility Index – a world-first innovation
- Defending public space – how good urban design can reduce the fear of crime
- A great way to respond to climate change
- 54 Seconds: Native Vegetation versus Arrive Alive!
- Perth showcases New Urbanism
- Review of subtropical cities 2006
- Prestigious award for UDFer Bill Kelly
- National Urban Design Forum 2007 - 29 April to 1 May
- Creating Successful and Vibrant Places