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6 Low-Cost Techniques to Activate Underused Urban Space

10:30 - 23 February, 2017

“Public space is the new backyard,” says Hamish Dounan, Associate Director of CONTEXT Landscape architects. “Great landscape architecture projects can actually get people out of their apartments and going for walks. It can get them engaging in a social way,” adds Shahana Mackenzie, CEO of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA). Trends to activate public spaces are increasing in popularity around the world; urban parks and gardens, vibrant street places, wider pedestrian walkways, cafes with outdoor seating. So during the 2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture held in Canberra during October 2016, Street Furniture Australia launched a pop-up park in the underused urban space of Garema Place, in collaboration with AILA, the ACT Government and In The City Canberra. The aim of the pop-up park was to create a small social experiment, “to test the theory that the fastest and most cost-effective way to attract people is to provide more places to sit.” In addition to moveable furniture, the design by CONTEXT Landscape architects included bright colors, additional lighting, a lawn, free Wi-Fi and bookshelves as techniques to make Garema Place more inviting.

The process and results of the pop-up park were documented in a report by Street Furniture Australia, with some impressive results: before the #BackyardExperiment, 97% of people were observed to just pass through Garema Place without stopping, and 98% of the people who did stop in the space were adults. During the 8 days of the experiment, the number of passersby increased by 190% as people chose to walk through Garema Place instead of taking other routes. In addition to this, 247% more people stayed at the place to sit and enjoy the pop-up park and surrounding area. There was an incredible 631% increase in children at the park, double the number of groups of friends, close to a 400% increase in the number of couples and almost 5 times the amount of families. With the numbers as evidence for the success of the #BackyardExperiment, here is a summary of the elements used to evoke such a positive response. Simple, cost-effective and relatively easy to implement, these interventions are an attractive “cocktail” for any underused urban space.

Canberra Hotel / Bates Smart

21:00 - 13 March, 2016
Canberra Hotel  / Bates Smart, © Brett Boardman
© Brett Boardman

© Brett Boardman © Brett Boardman © Anson Smart © Anson Smart +25

  • Architects

  • Location

    Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
  • Architect

    Bates Smart
  • Design Team

    Philip Vivian, Matthew Allen, Robert Graham, Jeffery Copolov, Tonie Maclennan Tanya Gordon, William Miller, Claire Pettitt
  • Area

    12000.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2015
  • Photographs

March Studio's Hotel Lobby in Australia Named World's Best Interior of 2015

14:00 - 9 November, 2015
March Studio's Hotel Lobby in Australia Named World's Best Interior of 2015, Winner: Hotel Hotel Lobby and Nishi Grand Stair Interior / March Studio. Image Courtesy of March Studio
Winner: Hotel Hotel Lobby and Nishi Grand Stair Interior / March Studio. Image Courtesy of March Studio

The "fragmented" lobby of Australia's Hotel Hotel in Canberra by March Studio has been named World Interior of the Year 2015. Announced at the INSIDE World Festival of Interiors in Singapore, concurrently with the World Architecture Festival's Building of the Year award, the winning project was selected over 100 nominated and 50 shortlisted projects for being the best global interior completed within the last 12 months. It also took top prize in the award's hotel category. 

The project has created a "Bilbao effect" that has helped rejuvenate the area, said the judges. Adding, it's a "masterful integration of different spaces into a seamless and delightful interior."

Roji Salon / Craig Tan Architects

17:00 - 9 September, 2015
Roji Salon / Craig Tan Architects, © Ross Honeysett
© Ross Honeysett

© Ross Honeysett © Ross Honeysett © Ross Honeysett © Ross Honeysett +16

  • Architects

  • Location

    Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
  • Architect in Charge

    Craig Tan
  • Project Team

    Edwina Brisbane, Elke Howard
  • Materials

    Stained OSB board, Stained CD face plywood, Cork sheeting, Spotted Gum Reveals, Stained Messmate Timber Flooring
  • Area

    72.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2014
  • Photographs

6 Politically Motivated Cities Built From Scratch

10:30 - 31 March, 2015
6 Politically Motivated Cities Built From Scratch, Image of the planned new capital of Egypt, masterplanned by SOM. Image © SOM
Image of the planned new capital of Egypt, masterplanned by SOM. Image © SOM

Threatening to end Cairo’s 1,046 year dominance as the country’s capital, earlier this month the government of Egypt announced their intentions to create a new, yet-to-be-named capital city just east of New Cairo. The promise of the more than 270 square mile ‘new New Cairo’ has attracted headlines from around the world with its sheer scale; a $45 billion development of housing, shopping and landmarks designed to attract tourism from day one, including a theme park larger than Disneyland. And of course, the plans include the promise of homes - for at least 5 million residents in fact, with the vast number of schools, hospitals and religious and community buildings that a modern city requires - making the new capital of Egypt the largest planned city in history.

The idea of building a new capital city has appealed to governments across history; a way to wipe the slate clean, stimulate the economy and lay out your vision of the world in stone, concrete and parkland. Even old Cairo was founded as a purpose built capital, although admittedly urban planning has changed a little since then. It continues to change today; see the full list of different ways to build a totally new city after the break.

Image of the planned new capital of Egypt, masterplanned by SOM. Image © SOM Train station. Image © SOM Government District. Image © SOM Concept of Cairo's replacement by Skidmore, Owings and Merril. Image © SOM +44

Studio Fuksas Selected to Design Canberra's Australia Forum

01:00 - 16 February, 2015
Studio Fuksas Selected to Design Canberra's Australia Forum, © Archivio Fuksas
© Archivio Fuksas

Italian architects Studio Fuksas have been selected, along with Canberra-based Guida Moseley Brown Architects, to design the Australia Forum, a new national convention centre in Canberra, Australia. Located at one apex of Central Canberra's Parliamentary Triangle, Studio Fuksas describe their design as a "completely transparent and permeable" volume which is "in constant dialogue with the urban context and the environment," integrating into the surrounding hills and the nearby Lake Burley Griffin by reflecting their presence in its skin.

Hotel Hotel Lobby and Nishi Grand Stair Interior / March Studio

01:00 - 15 June, 2014
Hotel Hotel Lobby and Nishi Grand Stair Interior / March Studio, © John Gollings
© John Gollings

Courtesy of March Studio Courtesy of March Studio Courtesy of March Studio Courtesy of March Studio +50

  • Architects

  • Location

    25 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
  • Design Team

    Rodney Eggleston, Sam Rice, Julian Canterbury, Jack Crocker, Jono Ware, Haslett Grounds, Patrick Macasaet
  • Photographs

Lodge on the Lake Exhibition

00:00 - 26 October, 2013
Lodge on the Lake Exhibition, The winning entry. Image © Henry Stephens, Nick Roberts, Jack Davies
The winning entry. Image © Henry Stephens, Nick Roberts, Jack Davies

In light of the strong responses to their Lodge on the Lake competition, organized in collaboration with the University of Canberra and won by Henry Stephens, Nick Roberts and Jack Davies in May, the Gallery of Australian Design is hosting an exhibition of the submissions to the competition, including models of the entries created specially created for the exhibition.

ARBORETUM / Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects

01:00 - 7 August, 2013
ARBORETUM / Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, © Brett Boardman
© Brett Boardman

© Brett Boardman © Brett Boardman © Brett Boardman © Brett Boardman +15

‘The Lodge on the Lake’ Third Prize Winning Proposal / Nic Moore + Monica Earl

01:00 - 12 June, 2013
‘The Lodge on the Lake’ Third Prize Winning Proposal / Nic Moore + Monica Earl, Courtesy of Nic Moore + Monica Earl
Courtesy of Nic Moore + Monica Earl

Designed by architects Nic Moore and Monica Earl, in collaboration with Lea Fernandez, Darryl Chandler, and Terence Yong, their third prize winning proposal for the Lodge on the Lake understands that a new Lodge needs both to fulfill the requirements of a complex brief, but also to be a strong symbol of Australian domestic and political values. This scheme is sited at the tip of Attunga Point and requires the sculpting of the Lake’s shore in order to bury a low landscape building in the ridge of the promontory. This building is made by fingers of heavy earthen walls, which project into the Lake. More images and architects' description after the break.

‘The Lodge on the Lake’ Competition Entry / Stephen Collier Architects

01:00 - 2 June, 2013
‘The Lodge on the Lake’ Competition Entry / Stephen Collier Architects, Courtesy of Stephen Collier Architects
Courtesy of Stephen Collier Architects

In this proposal for a new Australian Prime Ministers lodge, the core concept focused around the question; 'What if the British had embraced Indigenous culture in 1788?' Designed by Stephen Collier Architects, they propose to reconfigure and redefine this boundary of the lodge as a ring of landscape that is retained for public use. This land would be defined by a cluster of deciduous trees while public access to Lake Burley Griffin for all Australians will remain in perpetuity. More images and architects' description after the break.

The Lodge on the Lake Winning Proposal / Henry Stephens, Nick Roberts, Jack Davies

01:00 - 31 May, 2013
The Lodge on the Lake Winning Proposal / Henry Stephens, Nick Roberts, Jack Davies, Courtesy of Henry Stephens, Nick Roberts, and Jack Davies
Courtesy of Henry Stephens, Nick Roberts, and Jack Davies

Designed by Henry Stephens, Nick Roberts, and Jack Davies, the winning proposal for The Lodge on the Lake returns to the issues bound up in Australian identity and issues of modernity. The lodge is both a development and a critique of the Australian relationship of landscape and dwelling, through an intersection of public assembly, intimate domesticity, and ground plane. From the composed house atop a plinth, to the slippages and interpolations that unravel down toward the lake, the lodge on the lake is a democratic marriage of land and architectural typology, introspective private dwelling, and public assembly. More images and architects' description after the break.

'The Lodge on the Lake' Competition Entry / Other Architects

01:00 - 28 May, 2013
'The Lodge on the Lake' Competition Entry / Other Architects, Courtesy of Other Architects
Courtesy of Other Architects

Titled 'A House That Floods', the design for The Lodge on the Lake by Other Architects imagined re-inserting the narrative of the flooding and emptying Lake George  into the benign, artificial landscape of Canberra. The movement of water acts as a spatial device that dictates and clarifies the otherwise overlapping and confused functions of the Prime Minister's Lodge. Drained or submerged at certain times, the spaces of the house are optimized for ceremonial events and domestic life, public access and secret meetings. More images and architects' description after the break.

Biosciences Research Building / Lyons

01:00 - 6 November, 2012
Biosciences Research Building / Lyons, © Dianna Snape
© Dianna Snape

© Dianna Snape © Dianna Snape © Dianna Snape © Dianna Snape +20

  • Architects

  • Location

    Canberra, Australia
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photographs

Nishi Sales Suite and Gallery / hungerford+edmunds + OCULUS

01:00 - 10 May, 2012
Nishi Sales Suite and Gallery / hungerford+edmunds + OCULUS, © Nic Bailey
© Nic Bailey

© Nic Bailey © Nic Bailey © Nic Bailey © Nic Bailey +23

  • Architects

  • Location

    New Acton Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  • Collaborators

    Molonglo Group (client), PBS (builder), Oculus (landscape), Arup (ESD), Design Office (interior fit-out) and Clear (graphic design)
  • Client

    Molonglo Group
  • Area

    270.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2011
  • Photographs

Monash University Student Housing / BVN

01:00 - 25 April, 2012
Monash University Student Housing / BVN, Courtesy of  bvn architecture
Courtesy of bvn architecture

Courtesy of  bvn architecture Courtesy of  bvn architecture Courtesy of  bvn architecture Courtesy of  bvn architecture +12

  • Architects

  • Location

    Monash, Australia

Yarralumla Poolhouse / Katon Redgen Mathieson

00:00 - 30 January, 2012
Yarralumla Poolhouse / Katon Redgen Mathieson, © Katon Redgen Mathieson
© Katon Redgen Mathieson

© Katon Redgen Mathieson © Katon Redgen Mathieson © Katon Redgen Mathieson © Katon Redgen Mathieson +9

Campus Design Ideas Competition proposal

12:28 - 8 November, 2010
Phase 1
Phase 1

The proposal submitted by Charles Dewanto, C J Foo, Lorenzo Ju, Yenny Kusuma, Louis Wong, Maggie Chu and Tze Ek Ng for the Campus Design Ideas Competition for the University of Canberra received a supplementary prize for their degree of resolution, ambitious vision for the concourse and quality of presentation. More images and architect’s description after the break.