A new draft architecture and design policy for NSW has been prepared by the Office of the Government Architect putting a design led approach front and centre. It’s a first ever state wide design policy for high quality urban design. It lays the foundation for policy with a design-led planning strategy with the aim to support high quality built environment design outcomes. It also introduces new initiatives, such as the establishment of a NSW State Design Advisory Panel to consider key state significant projects.
Better Placed outlines principles and the directions for creating an urban environment that is livable and well designed. And it has come at a good time – as Sydney grows under pressure from macro and micro forces there is a need to preserve heritage, green infrastructure, biodiversity, provide adequate transportation and ensure sufficient measures have been applied in planning phases to assure amenities are delivered like hospitals and schools.
The public realm is the collective, communal part of our cities and towns, with shared access for all. It is the space of movement, recreation, gathering, events, contemplation and relaxation.
When we consider the cost of poor design it makes complete sense to implement policy that will have a positive impact. We are all aware of the individual and community cost, and the adverse implications of design that has been poorly thought through – not responding to context, and performing low on environmental performance, it is non inclusive, lacks accessibility, has poor functionality, delivers poor value and applies poor aesthetics. Design excellence by contrast, is about shaping great places from many points of view.
Good design “…responds to the concerns of communities and those involved in the development of our built environments about the impact of poor design but also defines how we can make the most of the opportunities that will arise as we develop new spaces and places,” said NSW planning minister Anthony Roberts.
Increased housing density and more compact housing results in households relying more on the public realm for recreation, access to sunlight, entertaining, exercise and social activity. While increased density brings many benefits in cities and towns, it needs to be offset by great public spaces, allowing people to expand their sense of ‘home’ to include the wider local area and shared communal spaces and facilities.
Good design is critical to creating liveable, productive, sustainable and resilient communities. The move is welcomed by the Australian Institute of Architects who see the design policy as a positive influence on the development industry and will help create more interesting and lively places to live and work and will enable New South Wales to attract the innovative organisations and skilled work force that will improve competitiveness a cross a global system.
As our cities grow, evolve and develop, the public environment takes different forms, including on privately-owned land, on rooftops, below elevated infrastructure and above transport nodes. Developing more compact cities can result in increased usage and pressure on the public realm requiring new models, management, high standards of design and finishing, and design of public space. In some instances, it may also require the creation or allocation of additional open and /or public space.
Mr Roberts said a well designed and integrated environment “creates useable, user-friendly, enjoyable and attractive places and spaces, which continue to provide value and benefits to people, the place and the natural environment over extended periods. Good design brings benefits socially, environmentally and economically, and builds on these benefits overtime – it adds value.”
The seven establishing principles for good design are outlined in the draft policy. For those who are interested in finding our more about the policy, and measures for excellence Dhub highly recommends you look at the draft policy Better Placed.