Category Archives: Architecture

Archi Quote

Our time is so specialised that we have people who know more and more or less and less.

Alvar Aalto

Bundaberg Medical Centre Newspaper Article

New medical centre proposed

Mike Derry | 19th October 2010

BUNDABERG could be home to a new $8 million medical centre if a development company’s plan gains Bundaberg Regional Council approval.

The centre, proposed by developer Honeyford, would be built across the road from the Bundaberg Hospital.

Honeyford director Anthony McPhee, said the building could also include extras such as a shop, cafe or restaurant.

“We’re trying to make it quite an impressive building,” Mr McPhee said.

He said according to the regulation for the area, 80% of the development needed to be aimed at medical purposes.

He said the company already had a lot of interest from potential tenants for the building, with heads of agreement and leases already being discussed.

Tenants who had shown interest so far included a pathology company, a GP and a local pharmacy.

Three existing residential buildings on the site will be removed to make way for the development.

The building will be stage one of a planned two-stage development.

The second stage will be built on another three blocks of land facing on to Woongarra Street.

Mr McPhee said the second stage would probably be more of a mixed business site.

“We’re already talking to a large oncology company who are very interested in it,” he said.

Mr McPhee said the company was hoping to start construction of stage one as early as April next year.

“The council is really keen to see the area developed, so it’s progressing really well,” he said.

Mr McPhee said the cost of building the new development would be about $4 million for stage one, including the cost of the land.

Stage two would cost about the same.

“We’re hoping that in a best-case scenario, stage two goes up shortly after stage one,” he said.

Mr McPhee said a sign would be erected on the site this week calling for public submissions on the development before the application before council goes to the next stage.

URBAN DENSITY & BUILDING HEIGHT

Since this blog began we have been attempting to point out the disconnect between building height and development density.

Our qualitative assessment of two inner urban areas of Brisbane (Newstead & Petrie Bight) showed the diametrically opposed urban form characteristics of each area (podium/tower high-rise type vs. low-rise perimeter block form) and offered some value judgements on the relative merits of each type in terms of the actual environment created for residents.

See our post of 13 May 2010  – 

…Inner city Brisbane – a few comments on density & height… https://neylanarchitecture.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/

and our further post of 27 July 2010  – 

 … Brisbane urban renewal – higher density or higher views…  https://neylanarchitecture.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/

Since then we have discovered a useful reinforcement of our judgement in a recent study which provides a quantitative assessment of  ten world cities undertaken to inform a Structure Plan being prepared for Southbank (Melbourne). Key outcomes include :

  • HIGHER BUILDINGS DO NOT DELIVER HIGHER DENSITIES THAN MID-RISE BUILDINGS (up to 12 floors)
  • QUALITY OF STREET INTERFACE HAS A DIRECT RELATIONSHIP WITH BUILDING HEIGHT AND TYPOLOGY

Go to this link to view the complete document which uses a comprehensive set of metrics to arrive at some interesting conclusions.

http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutMelbourne/ProjectsandInitiatives/MajorProjects/Documents/03_SouthbankStructurePlan%20Report_UrbanDensityStudy.pdf

Here is a one page summary of the report.

It can also be viewed on-line at

 http://unlandscaped.architecturemedia.com/unlandscaped/resources/entries/2010/018.pdf

Should Engineers be involved with Residential Master Planning?

A common problem today is the prevalence of the generic masterplan set out by engineers for new housing estates. These plans generally show a lack of empathy and knowledge of contemporary urban design philosophy, resulting in more of the wasteful and bland builders estates causing the loss of neighbourhood and the increase of urban sprawl. Lets analyze the typical plan received below:

Original masterplan by civil engineer

 1. The huge amount of roadway. This increases cost per Lot, reduces usable green space, causes stormwater run-off issues etc etc. 

2. House types laid out in rows typical of European row housing, with no thought about orientation and the Australian climate. 

3. The tiny yards and poor orientation, with houses overlooking each others private yard space. 

4. The public green space is surrounded by high garden walls allowing loitering. There is no attempt to relate to the green space or to design for security. Why turn your back on the park? 

Now have a look at the same site approached with the correct principles: 

Architectural Masterplan

1.  Reduced hard surface roadway. The roadway between the units is a permeable surface.
2. Exactly the same number of the same unit types (in fact they could be increased).
3. The majority of houses now have the correct orientation.
4. Yard space has sigbificantly increased but with less overlooking issues.
5. House clusters have a unique address (as opposed to long boring rows) and form a community.
6. Changing orientation of the houses is aesthetically pleasing.
7. Car garages are hidden from the main street front, allowing front yards, improved pedestrian access and improved visual security.
8. The green space is accessed from the road and is not a place that will encourage loitering.

Typical dwelling cluster

Wallaby Al Baxter Architect

Wallaby prop Al Baxter has graduated as an Architect and has set up this very interesting blog:

http://www.alastairbaxter.com/

Archi Quote

“I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.”

                                                                                                                       Le Corbusier

Brisbane urban renewal: higher density or higher views?

Accommodating Brisbane’s projected population growth over coming decades means that we have to build around 138,000 new dwellings as “infill” development by 2031. (This infill development is intended to represent 88% of all new dwellings to be constructed by 2031 – a tall order !).

Meeting this target means densification of development in selected areas throughout the city – a proposition which generates opposition from existing residents who automatically equate density with high-rise buildings. This correlation between density and height is erroneous: sure, building tall is one way of acheiving density, but we have illustrated in a previous post that this is not the only way.

 However there is not a unified approach on how densification should be applied and achieved. Recent projects, now at development approval stage,  have taken the mid-rise  &  high-rise approach.  Projects such as the The “Mosaic” development in the Valley and “Parkside Boulevard One” in Newstead are going over the 20-storey limit.  

“Mosaic” is a hyperdense 20-storey mixed  use development with around 200 units, most of them being studio and 1-bedroom units.  

"Mosaic": expensive density with a view

If built, this development will be adjacent to the new low-cost  10-storey housing project which is to be built opposite the Valley pool and would achieve a density of  approximately 400 dwellings per hectare, similar to that of the Petrie Bight precinct. Paradoxically, this pricey units will be built on land formerly owned by the Housing Commission. 

10-storey affordable density in the Valley

The other development, “Parkside Boulevard One” in the Gasworks precinct in  Newstead, is a 25-storey height development with 182 units achieving a density of approximately 90/100 dwellings per hectare. If approved, the proposed 25-storey height will dramatically stand out against the neighbouring 4-5 storeys  of the  Woolstores Precinct in Teneriffe.  
Interestingly enough, dwelling density in the  low-rise Woolstores precinct  is higher than the one achieved by the proposed “Boulevard One” 25-storey development. As discussed in our previous post,  “Inner city Brisbane: a few comments on height and density” from  13 May, the Woolstores precinct have achieved a density of 190 dwellings per hectare with an average height of 4 storeys.  And this density includes an appropriate pedestrian scale with a dynamic village-like atmosphere.

Increased density: what is a 25-storey height really achieving?

So if  mid and high-rises don’t necessarily achieve the higher densities required by a sustainable urban strategy, what is the reason behind a 20-25 storey development? Certainly not increasing density as shown above. So they only thing that comes to our mind are “the views”, specifically views to sell. 

Achieving higher densities or higher views?

But unlike streets and boulevards which are for the whole community to utilize and enjoy, these views are to be enjoyed just by a few. On the other hand, pedestrian-scaled and mixed-use streetscapes like that of Grey Street in Southbank (6-12 storeys in height)  clearly demonstrate that being the backbone of the city fabric, “the street” is still the biggest and most attractive asset a city can have as it allows for  community, interaction, exchange, recreation and contemplation for all. 

Grey Street: density for all with a human scale

Moreover, increased densities  and good public spaces have been recently achieved by developments that do not rely on imposing excessive height on the urban fabric. A few local examples are: 

Density & height: achieving the right balance

These successful developments clearly demonstrate that higher densities -and therefore more sustainable cities- can be achieved by implementing building types that respect and promote community while providing adequately scaled public spaces and harmonious urban landscapes. 

The risks of equating increased density with increased height are all around the world to see. But we  just need to take a look at our local Brisbane context to verify the consequences of the abuse of height. The desolated Petrie Bight streetscape along with its polluted visual air space, are a sad reminder of  urban renewal guided by real estate frenzy. 

Petrie Bight: the "views" rat-race

..............and exciting streets!

So next time you see a 20-something building emerging from nowhere, stop and think if this is what you want to see as you approach beautiful Brissie, flying over the inner city suburbs: