Solutions in the Suburbs

  • 2020

  • Architectural
    Place Design

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m3architecture ‘Solutions in the Suburbs’ study investigates the complexities of impending growth and residential and suburban character. The study adapts proven urban design and architectural principles to a more dense, sustainable, equitable, vibrant and adaptable suburbia. m3architecture illustrates how innovation can occur at a systemic and structural level, across scales.

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  • Australia’s population is predicted to double by 2060. Current political narratives and policy settings around population growth centre on high density, inner-city living at one end and suburban expansion into rural and agricultural land at the other. This binary approach limits the capacity for thoughtful, vibrant, sustainable increases in density in established suburbs. Leaving room for innovation, m3architecture’s ‘Solutions in the Suburbs’ seeks to engage the public, decision makers and designers with a design-led approach around alternative policy settings. This work has never been more relevant as long-predicted shifts in work, retail and family life become a COVID-19 reality.

  • This work, based around the opportunity presented by greater density in Australia’s suburbs, has been motivated by a lack of informed public and political debate and a lack of integrated regulation. The approach, focused on principles not rules, first sets out common ground for the public, policy makers and politicians to meet. Leaving room for innovation, these principles are then applied to both the structure and detail of the suburbs, at different scales and in different conditions, to show how greater densities might be delivered to the benefit of both the original suburban aspiration and a layer of contemporary concerns.

  • ‘Solutions in the Suburbs’ makes social and structural contributions to more dense, more sustainable and more vibrant suburban communities, Australia-wide. The study illustrates how good design in established suburbs can set the sustainable agenda, meet a significant percentage of our future housing needs, decrease housing costs, increase transport options, improve choice, decrease travel, make streets safer, increase connections to landscape, all whilst increasing our sense of community and retaining what we love about our suburbs. The study proposes a series of pilot projects, with subsequent learnings from these pilot projects applied to future suburban design.

  • The urgent need for increased density, more diverse housing options and more sustainable development appears to be too complex to be resolved by existing solutions in the suburbs. A multitude of approaches that realign policy settings with good design principles is needed to adapt to these challenges and at the same time, retain what we love about our cities. The issues we face include; imminent population growth, the need for better connected and more vibrant communities, more housing choice, more affordable housing, more sustainable development, opportunities to age in place, the retention of mature landscape (our cities’ lungs), more transport options, reduced travel times (working close to home), safer streets and housing those who serve our community in the communities they serve. Good design CAN deliver these outcomes. ‘Solutions in the Suburbs’ shows how. To widen the conversation, in the lead up to the recent Queensland local government elections, this work was sent to every local government mayoral candidate, relevant state minister, state and city architect and numerous media representatives. Like the dialogue, work continues, as we seek to deliver pilot projects to test, prove and improve the options for the suburbs and the research which sits behind it.