Recently Georgia and Laura form 3D Radio conducted a vox pop for Thinking Through The City on what young people wanted in Norwood Payneham and St Peters. The program went to air on October 13 … and the verdict…? Youth were keen to see more of a vibe generated in the city through live music and events. Culture and creativity are the glue that create meaning and enrichment in our lives, and today the term creative communities is being used far and wide, but the challenge remains how to truly generate opportunities for individuals to be creatively engaged as active, creative citizens. Allied to the notion of ‘artistic citizenship’ comes the idea of ‘cultural sustainability’…
The other evening, I was out walking, when down the footpath came a large old koala wandering down the street on his way to somewhere. He stopped and looked at me and carried on by, just another member of the local Kensington community out for an evening stroll.
Not growing up in Australia, I am still amazed whenever I see the local fauna out and about, especially in an urban situation. My encounter, with our marsupial resident, started me thinking; why is it such an unusual or exceptional event to see koalas or other indigenous animals in our suburbs and why can’t we take a more fauna-centric view towards our cities. Perhaps, if we want our cities to be truly liveable and sustainable for all, we should cast our thinking wider than just the city’s human inhabitants. Is there a benefit to be gained by designing for wildlife in the city? Not simply form the point of view of curiosity, but from an ecosystem wide perspective.
When we add wildlife as a measure of success within our cities we start to add a new level of performance to the planning and design of our urban environments. For example, a measurement of bird species is not simply a count of animals. The type and number birds in an area can also represent the diversity of tree species, habitat quality and extent of urban woodlands in the city. Similarly, the number of koalas in the urban environment could signify the quality of habitat corridors and vegetation, whilst frogs could reflect the health and distribution of the creeks and water bodies. By using animals as a performance measure in our cities, we start to move away from the usual ‘function’ defined outcomes for infrastructure, especially green infrastructure (our creeks, wetlands and open spaces). If we are aiming to create liveable cities, perhaps a more diverse approach to design and planning is needed to allow us to achieve liveable and sustainable environments where bird song, koala sightings, bee hives, butterflies and frog spawn are measures of success rather than the usual social and economic indicators we use today.
Perhaps next time you are out in the suburbs try listening for the bird song and look around you. Does the amount of birds reflect to quality and quantity of trees around you as well as the shade and amenity of the street? Or consider this, if a street has no song, what amenity does it provide for people. How sustainable and liveable is that street?
Accidental Urban Designer – Warwick Keates – Director WAX Design
My role was to oversee the redevelopment of Dunstone Grove – Linde Reserve from concept to detailed design and final delivery. I am really pleased how the design objectives have translated into reality. It is a real oasis – away from the adjoining roads and traffic – a really pleasant place to be that enhances the community’s enjoyment of the environment. We naturalised, as much as possible, Second Creek and created artificial rock pools to allow for the natural habitat and fauna to re-establish and the community to interact with it. Already there has been an increased number of ducks; three families of ducks have been raised since the pools were established – even during construction works! Further we have been advised that frogs have returned to the creek. They have been heard at night and bubbles are frequently seen here.
I could talk for hours on the reserve’s many inclusions such as stormwater harvesting for reuse to irrigate this reserve & beyond, artworks, environmental sustainable design initiatives + more. I’ve already booked my son’s first birthday party here, that’s how proud I am of the finished product.
Sam Dilena NPSP Asset & Special Projects Manager
Further notes on new and innovative models for thinking about increasing the sustainability of creative practice (on not neglecting the business)…
(further to an earlier post and in response to the conversations and presentations made at Thinking through the City’s first forum: Incubating Creativity)
One major problem in my mind with the gallery model of engaging with contemporary art, is the convention – appropriate when the main audience for a given show is the group of potential collector/investors, but in-appropriate in the case of much contemporary practice – of supplying free food and drink to all-comers. Openings are fun, and a good chance to catch up with friends, or to network, or to celebrate together the culmination of a lot of thinking, care and physical effort, but often they are packed wall-to-wall and the worse of occasions to get a real feel for the art itself, which may require solitude, or at least some space for a worthwhile engagement. It often strikes me as bizarre that it is taken for granted an artist will put up the time, labour and material cost to make the work, and then in effect, is also expected to pay (to otherwise entertain) their viewers.
This convention is a habit rather than a necessity I am sure, and one that several Artist Run Intitiatives (Feltspace and Format in Adelaide for example) are dispensing with, supplying wine and/or beer at a cost rather than handing it out. No one seems to mind.
There are other models too that combine different notions of sustainability with relaxing over a drink or meal, alongside an art experience:
Crate59 in Cairns supports emerging artists by sub-leasing a portion of the gallery space that fronts their complex of studios to an iconic local business ‘Billy’s Coffee’ (which shifts from its home at Rusty’s Markets weekly on the days the markets are closed). Great coffee and a rich mix of curated and high rotation artist run shows creates a relaxed and inviting way to spread the ‘opening’ out, to sustain and give a platform to a diversity of local artists and to extend the invitation to people that might not venture into a gallery otherwise – as their website says “Art + other = good”!