four ways to future proof your development and make it thrive

Mel’s experience in urban renewal, including Green Square and Barangaroo, has demonstrated that if the desired transport behaviours are not catered for and incentivised from the day the first resident or worker arrives, then you accept the impact of your decisions.

Barangaroo would not function without Wynyard Walk or street design that limits parking.

Green Square struggles without an additional high-capacity rail service resulting in buses that are too full and with constant traffic congestion.

Yet, Green Square also has extensive active transport infrastructure (coupled with some clever and successful behaviour change campaigns) and this relieves the demand on cars, particularly during the commute peaks.

It is critical that access to public and active transport services are provided early and are shaped and grown based on the growth of the area.

The concept of normalising the densification of transport options and capacity to meet increased land used density is essential to making new developments work (especially at a precinct scale).

3. Include elements of playfulness and delight

Playfulness and delight are two key factors that need to be included in place that are often overlooked or forgotten.

When we think of our favourite places to be, they are often creators of delight in our lives whether they be our homes, art galleries, beaches or planned events.

We often forget that play is just as important for adults as it is for children.

We know that play is critical and formative for the physical and cognitive development for young people, yet play is stimulating for the adult brain which can increase productivity and performance.

Play often comprises an element of physical activity which keeps our bodies moving and is good for our health, and it also releases hormones that make us feel good.

Designing in opportunities for play and playfulness in developments provides enormous benefits for both the people in that place, but also creates a unique point of difference from a marketing perspective.

4. Be future-forward: enable continuous adaptation and transition

We are seeing adaptive reuse become a more prolific requirement in urban mixed-use developments, as governments prepare for rapid technological disruption to our physical environment resulting in need to change the use of our physical spaces.

As we know, adapting the use of an existing building can be complex and costly, so it makes sense to prepare for potential expected change during the design process.

Rather than future-proof (which implies a set final state), be future-forward so that your development can respond to change continuously into the future.

Many architects and developers are providing for adaptive reuse in new buildings, however, this should apply also to streets and their functions to enable changes in use at lower cost and responding to the actual behaviours of people rather that what was considered appropriate in the early strategic stages.

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