The way we define a ‘garden’ has continued to evolve over time as we see a move away from spacious backyards to a more compact design. This forces us to find new ways to incorporate a garden setting into new dwellings such as apartments, large-scale developments and refurbishments with limitations on size & space.
However, with lifestyles continually evolving designers and policymakers are encouraging dwelling diversity and sustainable urban design. So what are some of the most popular trends we’re seeing in urban garden designs?
Vertical gardens were a concept first implemented as an innovative response for those with limited space, providing them with an opportunity to improve their amenity and incorporate plants into their private open space (POS), balcony and terrace areas.
It is no secret that dwelling diversity, affordability and sustainable urban development (SUD) are consistent themes that permeate through the Planning Policy Framework and Local Planning Policy Framework throughout Metropolitan Planning Schemes, however we do not see the requirement to consider dwelling diversity triggered under ResCode until a proposal contemplates 10 or more dwellings (of which diversity is typically reflected in the number of bedrooms and floor area of a development/dwelling). One of the current limitations is the absence in defining/acknowledging the term ‘vertical garden’ within the Planning Scheme and acknowledging it as a form of a garden when considering an urban development proposal against the Standards and Objectives of ResCode.
Trees within a dwelling
The retention and planting of canopy trees in considering and assessing property development continues to be a common theme flooding most neighbourhood character studies throughout metropolitan Melbourne. The requirement to retain and plant canopy trees within the front and rear yard of new dwellings provide a plethora of advantages to not only the dwelling’s amenity for current and future occupants, but to the streetscape through improving a leafy backdrop and contributing to the urban fabric of an area. However, what are the limitations to having canopy trees within a dwelling?
One of the more obvious limitations involved in providing a mature canopy tree within a dwelling is the financial burden inflicted onto the developer for providing tree sensitive construction methods to retain a mature tree within the building footprint. This issue flows onto then convincing the Responsible Authority that the health and structure of the tree will not be compromised during the construction phase and requires an innovative and open-minded mentality. Although improving internal amenity through solar penetration and the visual aesthetics of such design responses clearly benefit the occupants of the dwelling, the planting of trees within buildings also runs a high risk for future generations through structural instability of the foundations of the building.
From a planning perspective and as mentioned earlier, referring such an application to Council’s arborist for comments may result in an unwillingness to support such construction methods and design responses given the potential complications in political and community barriers and absence of such methods being utilised within suburban areas. They do look good though.
The concept of implementing green walls, roofs and facades across new and existing dwellings has been a developing trend across many buildings throughout urban cities, with studies revealing the benefits associated with green facades to include reducing urban heat island effect, insulation of buildings and reductions in the number of air pollutants.
Within Melbourne, we have typically witnessed this trend being applied to large-scale developments including apartment buildings and podium car parking structures, with the ‘Better Apartment Design Standards’ acknowledging and encouraging such concepts. Could we see this feature fill our suburban neighbourhoods on a smaller scale through townhouse developments?
Neighbourhood character should be the starting point for any residential development within suburban Melbourne, consideration of the existing and preferred elements that make up the immediate area is a requirement of all planning schemes within Victoria and ensure new development maintains the character of the streetscape. However, with the majority of neighbourhood character studies identifying ‘brick’, ‘timber’ and/or ‘render’ as the most common materials used for development, how would the responsible authority view a ‘green wall’ on character grounds? The number of applications being appealed at VCAT on neighbourhood character grounds appears to be a common theme across many townhouse development appeals at the Tribunal. This got me thinking, would the implementation of green facades across residential townhouse developments cause detrimental effects to the neighbourhood character of an area? Should such designs be supported by Responsible Authorities given the sustainable design response?
With the above-mentioned ideas and photos typically seen in higher density (inner city) developments or single dwelling developments, are we at a stage where we should be encouraging such innovative garden areas within suburban townhouse developments?
Written by Sam Palma.
LUKAS NOTT - SENIOR ASSOCIATE
Lukas has over 10 years’ experience in urban design and strategic planning across both private and public practise. Lukas has a passion for inner and middle-ring redevelopment and revitalisation, and working collaboratively across disciplines to deliver integrated development outcomes in challenging urban environments with multiple stakeholders.
Prior to re-joining DLA, Lukas spent 6 years as Coordinator of Urban Design at Brimbank City Council and the City of Port Phillip where he oversaw the development and delivery of rolling capital works programs targeted at the revitalisation of town centres and disadvantaged communities while working closely and collaboratively with the private sector and State Government to ensure that new infill development and significant infrastructure investment outcomes were in line with best practise urban design principles and delivered improved outcomes for the community.
We are thrilled to have Lukas re-join DLA. If you would like to get in touch with an expert town planning and urban design consultant, please contact us.
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Graeme Parton as Non-Executive Chair of our board of directors. This recognises the growth and evolution of the business, bringing a need for independent and experienced leadership to help chart its future.
Graeme is a highly experienced property and development adviser, and non-executive director. He is currently a director of Aequitas Advisory and Development Victoria, a committee member of the Property Council of Australia, and chair of RMIT University’s School of Property, Construction and Project Management Advisory Board. His interests also extend to the arts and charity through his roles as a member of the Australian Ballet Redevelopment Committee, council member of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, and director of the charitable foundation St John’s Foundation Limited.
Graeme brings wide experience from his former roles as a director of Charter Keck Cramer, Pinnacle Property Group and Stirling Properties Limited, along with positions on numerous advisory boards and committees including Enterprise Geelong, Sunshine Town Centre Partnership Group, Victorian State of the Environment Urban Planning and Development report, and Postcode 3000.
Responding to his appointment, Graeme said “It’s exciting that the practice is entering its next phase of growth. I look forward with enthusiasm to working closely with the DLA Board to guide this growth and optimise its potential.”
Graeme succeeds Michael McDonald, who stepped down after two years in the post. We extend our deep gratitude to Michael for his wise counsel during a period of transition.
2017 has been an incredible year for David Lock Associates. As a small 'thank you' to our clients and collaborators, we would love to share with you our 2017 Yearbook containing a snapshot of our project and company highlights from the past year.
Our Principal Urban Designer, Mark Sheppard, recently took PIA “Doing it Differently” symposium delegates on a walking tour of Victoria Harbour in Melbourne’s Docklands.
This follows the introduction of interim controls in 2015 and 2016, and foreshadows new permanent controls expected to be introduced by mid 2018. The Framework outlines overarching strategies for the whole of Fishermans Bend, but its detailed proposals focus on the four Capital City Zoned precincts (excluding the Employment Precinct north of the West Gate Freeway): Montague, Lorimer, Sandridge and Wirraway.
DLA is proud to be involved in a number of major social housing renewal projects in Melbourne and Sydney.
DEXUS Property Group Ltd v Minister for Planning  VCAT 619
DLA Associate Urban Designer Brodie Blades was recently engaged to appear as an urban design expert witness at VCAT on behalf of the Minister for Planning with respect to a planning permit application at 32-44 Flinders Street, Melbourne.
BADS In Practice:
What do the new Victorian BADS planning controls mean for the design of apartment buildings?
The Victorian Better Apartment Design Standards (BADS) have now been officially introduced to planning schemes. New apartment developments (except those lodged before 13 April 2017) are now required to meet the requirements of the new Clause 58, or new apartment provisions in Clause 55.07 if they are in a residential zone and lower than five storeys. Notably, the Guidelines for Higher Density Residential Development remain in place, although new Apartment Design Guidelines are slated for May.
The new standards are largely focused on establishing minimum standards of internal amenity. But what are their other consequences for the design of apartment buildings? First, let’s look at the things that won’t change much.
DLA Associate Jonathan Halaliku takes a close look at the new Victorian Residential Zones and asks the key question: are the new Vic res zones sufficiently reformed, or should we be further reforming?
Urban design is an integral component of the work we do here at DLA, and it is important to occasionally 'brush up' on the techniques and abilities we employ in urban design - including hand drawing. We were recently lucky enough to be visited by Geoffrey Falk (a renowned local Melbourne-based architect and illustrator whose amazing Melbourne-centric urban sketches have adorned many structure plans, development proposals and visioning materials) who shared his insight on urban sketching and his particular drawing style with the team.
Are you inspired by planning and design? Are you interested in the latest trends in town planning and urban design both here and abroad?
Here at DLA we are passionate about all things town planning, urban design and architecture and love discussing the latest trends in our monthly blog 'Plantastic and Designeriffic'. Stay up to date with the latest urban design tips, urban curiosities and interesting reads from the team by subscribing to our monthly newsletter at the link below! It's completely free, simple to unsubscribe and - best of all - always inspirational.
So what are you waiting for? Get 'designeriffic' today!
Sign up to our monthly newsletter here.
By Julia Moiso, Assistant Planner, David Lock Associates
Changes to NSW planning legislation are being presented by the State Government as a means to increase housing supply in Sydney. The proposed amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act) will change the way that development applications are assessed.
David Lock Associates is pleased to announce the promotion of two of our senior staff members to Associate. We would also like to extend a welcome to our most recent employee.
Better Apartment Design Standards Released
The Victorian State Government has recently released its final version of the Better Apartment Design Standards (BADS) following exhibition of a hotly-discussed draft set of guidelines exhibitions. Released on Saturday, the new design standards appear to have responded to significant industry feedback (including submissions from DLA) and will influence new apartment development across Melbourne from March 2017 onwards.