Greening the Interactional Space Between Building and Street in New Multi-Storey Apartment Buildings in the Subtropical City

Join us on 10-11th July at Brisbane’s Hotel Grand Chancellor for the 10th Making Cities Liveable Conference.

Dr Rosemary Kennedy, Director for Subtropical Cities Consultancy will be joining us this year to discuss “Greening the interactional space between building and street in new multi-storey apartment buildings in the subtropical city”.

Rosemary Kennedy

Private plantings can make important contributions to public streetscapes in the subtropical city. The space of interaction, usually a transition zone on the primary frontage, that links the private space of multi-storey residential buildings to the public realm of the street is important in this discussion in the context of Brisbane’s rapidly densifying neighbourhoods.

A critical review of a sample of recently-approved apartment buildings from five to thirty storeys in Brisbane’s inner urban areas studied developments’ performance in terms of quality design for subtropical living including their effect on the surrounding public space, particularly the streets that they frame. Data were collected from documents submitted for development approval to Council’s online system. A 65-year-old apartment building recognised as an Australian significant building of the 20th Century was also analysed.

Brisbane City Council’s Multiple Dwelling Code (MDC) that unequivocally links the city’s character and identity, and resident’s way of life, to the endemic subtropical climate and landscape, provided objective measures for evaluation. Performance outcomes for code assessable apartment developments promote landscape that provides shade to pedestrian pathways, presents an integrated landscape, neighbourhood and streetscape character and contributes positively to the amenity and the subtropical microclimate of the site, the streetscape and public spaces.

The research identified significant performance gaps between planning policy and actual outcomes. Overall, the sample delivered an overwhelming impression of a lack of greenery, with interactional spaces dominated by hard surfaces and services, and no meaningful plantings to provide shady relief over front setbacks.

These findings are an example of Carmona et al’s implementation gap between principles and local delivery. The paper discusses competing objectives of different participants in the development process that prevent or encourage better outcomes for nature in urban areas.