Urbanism and ‘pokeability’ of a city

Urban planning is not dead but a different definition is needed, according to experts in urban planning and public issues.

At the 2021 Festival of Urbanism, a panel of researchers, community advocates and industry leaders discussed the sustainability of urban living in today’s changing climate.

Sydney-based columnist and author Dr Elizabeth Farrelly believes that urban planning is no longer about big spaces with tall buildings.

“I would like to come up with a different definition, of height or scale, density or speed, which is more about walking and poke ability,” she told festival attendees.

Dr Elisabeth Farrelly

“[Pokeability] is the ability fostered by an urban fabric to be pleasantly curvy and to encourage and attract and, I suppose, suggest and seduce that kind of activity from us as pedestrians.

She said size doesn’t make anything urban and there are various smaller urban centers spread across the suburbs.

According to Dr Farrelly, Sydney has a diverse community, with many first-generation people hailing from places with rich and vibrant urban traditions.

“All we have to do is create some ability to work within that fabric, which isn’t difficult if you have two-story townhouses, four-story apartments, or three-story townhouses. “, she said.

“It’s easy to adapt the work to this fabric; I don’t know why we don’t do this everywhere and forget about the towers.

“[Pokeability] it is the ability of an urban fabric to be snooped with pleasure. – Dr. Elizabeth Farrelly

Building around stations

However, Gabriel Metcalf, CEO of the Committee for Sydney and another panelist, said high-rise buildings should not be ruled out altogether.

Gabriel Metcalf

“I think there’s a lot of merit in putting tall buildings around train stations because when people live there they can get around the greater metropolitan area much more easily without a car,” he said during of the festival.

“So when you leave your pedestrianized area where you’ve lived most of your life and go somewhere else, the benefits of being right next to a train station are enormous.

“I actually think the 15-minute city or the 30-minute city, the walkable neighborhood, this post-COVID life rebalancing, all of that goes well with clusters of high-rise buildings around stations as a morphology. “

CBD is not synonymous with urban

The panel also agreed that urban centers are not exclusive to central business districts.

There are various reasons why people gather, according to Mr. Metcalf.

“We have to remember that there are a lot of reasons why people come together and it’s not just for work and it’s not just that people have to be together,” he said. -he declares.

“It’s because a lot of us love cities, a lot of us love the kind of things we can do there.”

“I think there’s a lot of merit in putting tall buildings around stations.” –Gabriel Metcalf

Impact of Covid

Dr. Farrelly thinks COVID could tip us in either of two directions.

“It could make us absolutely terrified of being close to each other and make us spread out in the suburbs and go… ‘we’re not going to use public transport, we can’t do that proximity stuff anymore,'” she said. .

“Or it could have the opposite effect, and that is what I hope, to make us realize that we value community, and we value closeness, and we like busy streets and we like being able to walk in cool air.”

Mr Metcalf also believes Covid will cause fundamental changes in how cities function, but he remains positive.

“My thesis is that the cities will be fine, Sydney will be fine, even if the place of production changes,” he said.

“Even though highly skilled knowledge workers, some of them, choose to live on the beach, there are enough other reasons for enough people to choose cities.”

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