making cities liveable

Walking around Adelaide’s CBD with Ari has enabled me to see that  urban design in Adelaide, since the 1960s,   has been structured around keep the car happy.

Its been about suburban sprawl, traffic efficiency and parking spaces rather than public spaces for people to gather. The assumed model of urban design is the old modernist one— modern cities are about high-rises and good windy spaces rather than being about the human lives lived within the city.

Rowlands apartments
Rowlands apartments

It was only liveable because it was small or compact and so avoided the congestion of Sydney. The recent shift is towards densifying  Adelaide  around the core infrastructure, transport hubs and a diversity of income groups in the CBD.

This shift takes the form of  hesitant steps but they do point to a more liveable and human city—-what Adelaide once was before the car became the dominant mode of transport. Hesitant steps because global economic forces are favouring investment units, which  are  sold overseas to  foreign buyers ready to pay inflated market vales,  and are rarely inhabited.

This is more obvious in Melbourne and Sydney whose property markets are more prone to booms and busts and where property developers avoid providing any affordable housing as much as possible. Developers are dead keen to get out of paying for affordable housing at all scales of development. Their aim is  to achieve the maximum number of housing units on any given site, aimed at selling to an international market. The problem that emerges form a system that is fundamentally anti-plan/design -making is botched urban development that ignores the public interest of making the cities better.