‘Can’ does not mean ‘should’

The Australian dream: a house, kids and a good backyard. Sure, we may not all share that dream, but Australian cities have a depressing tendency to sprawl. High-density living is unfashionable, unless it’s in the CBD, in which case it’s likely to be unaffordable for most people. So, we’re stuck with continuous development of any flat land within an hour’s drive from the city, with a road network strained beyond its limits and the loss of amenity that results. It’s not the fault of anyone in particular, but it will need to change, and there are promising signs of improved planning practices cropping up across the globe. In my own backyard, Varsity Lakes has some encouraging features which promote moderately high density living in a functional way which does nothing to compromise a good lifestyle.

Dubai flies in the face of that type of planning. Tyler Caine over at Intercon has written an excellent article explaining why, among other things, a series of islands making the shape of a globe is offensive to anyone who cares about our collective future. If I could sum it up in one sentence, it would be as follows: Just because we can develop in the face of environmental conditions, that doesn’t mean we should. Check it out!

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Categories: environmentalism | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “‘Can’ does not mean ‘should’

  1. David,

    Thanks for the shout out. I think you’re right in saying that a very similar phenomenon is taking place in suburbia. I am no expert in Australia, but it is an incredible problem in the U.S. Building outside of the city is easier, cheaper and allows for the precious elbow room and privacy that our cultures have come to attribute value to. I myself grew up in the suburbs all my life, but after moving into New York City, I would have to say the advantages to urban living are notable. Like you said, it is the way our societies should be moving no matter how much land we “can” swallow for lawns and swimming pools.

    -Tyler

  2. In Adelaide a little while ago, there was some talk of setting up nodes around the city of medium density living with excellent transport networks between the nodes to sway people to living within these nodes rather than continuing the sprawl…
    That said, they’re building a tram line to Port Adelaide, water processing plant/s and as far as I can tell very little upgrade to the grid to support this process or the 2 million more they want to share this little city.
    It makes sense before lose the last remnants of natural biota within the Mt Lofty and Adelaide plain regions, however politics and commonsense tend not to meet eye-to-eye.

    • They want 2 million more in Adelaide? A city at the end of a dying river system? Whoa…

      There was an article in a Gold Coast paper recently discussing the prospect of our population tripling (half a million to one and a half) and an urban planning professor I know was quoted advocating medium/high density living along the newly planned light rail route. Planners clearly understand what we need – development, on the other hand, seems to be driven by demand, which doesn’t come from people who understand urban planning!

  3. I may be wrong; I reckon it might have been 2 million people by 2020. It was something silly like that; either way, as you said, our current water supply is next to non-existent and we simply don’t have a grid to support the growth or the housing structure (everyone wants their own little patch – so goodbye to the last of the plains and hills).
    As you said, the planners do understand the logistics; I’ve certainly heard of some excellent plans, but it’s changing the expectations of a growing community that is the difficulty.
    I was at the Gold Coast about 2yrs ago and I remember a bus driver telling me that it was the fastest growing region in Australia (hell, I could see myself moving there or northern NSW in a couple of years). It will continue to be an issue until that shift in culture and expectations has largely occurred.

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