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Smarter, more connected: shaping the future of urban life

by Gosia Kaszubska

A decade from now, three in four of us will be living in large cities and Australia’s population will be close 30 million.

How can we limit urban sprawl, redevelop underused places and create innovative, multifunctional, sustainable precincts? What do we need to create and shape smarter and more connected places to live from a human perspective?

Collaborating and engaging across multiple sectors, researchers at RMIT work on the biggest challenges facing our nation’s growing cities and states.

Canberra model the key to creating successful new cities

The nation’s capital could hold the secret to planning for Australia’s growing population, offering a working model for successfully decentralising our major cities.

Examining Australia’s historical patterns of decentralisation over the last 100 years, researchers pointed to the long-term cross-institutional support to build a new urban centre in regional Australia as key to Canberra’s success.

Their report, commissioned by Balance Victoria, assessed the prospects for a formal decentralisation program in Victoria and identified the essential principles for creating vibrant, ultra-modern and highly sustainable new cities and disbursing growth to these areas.

Award-winning research delivers first true measure of liveability

Seven years in the making, Creating Liveable Cities in Australia is a unique urban research and analytical tool that provides a comprehensive baseline measure for urban liveability of the nation’s capital cities and makes recommendations on how they can improve.

Honoured with a major award by the Planning Institute of Australia, the tool enables planners, urban policy developers and influencers to analyse the contribution and success made through the implementation of policy ambition.

The data has been used to develop the Australian Urban Observatory, which gives policy makers, planners and the public access to a wide range of indicators relating to the built environment, including walkability, transport and housing affordability. The portal will be launched at Engaging for Impact 2020 (4-6 February).

Smart city tech keeps Bendigo residents cool by mapping hot spots

Cities are becoming increasingly vulnerable to extreme heat and boosting community resilience calls for innovative solutions.

Here’s one smart idea: a new digital platform that maps the location of urban hot spots Bendigo, to enable pedestrians and cyclists to plan a cooler route through their city.

The urban heat maps delivered by the Shadeways platform are helping inform The City of Greater Bendigo’s priorities for planting street trees, and the scalable technology is also being adopted in a pilot for the City of Melbourne’s innovation district.

Want to get people walking? Make train stations about more than transport

Many train station precincts in Melbourne don’t have basic features that encourage active transport, so commuters end up using their car to get to the station instead of walking or cycling.

Could we rethink train stations for a more healthy, liveable city? Research shows creating train station precincts with more shops and apartment blocks is key to getting residents walking.

Stations in the Melbourne’s north and south-east have been identified as ripe for redevelopment as activity hubs, to harness their existing “destination features” including shops, community centres, retail and multiple transport options.

Melbourne as a playable city: a new approach to public engagement

Cities around the world are discovering how the “urban play” approach to civic engagement can improve public spaces and infrastructure, connecting people to place and to each other.

A narrated audiowalk that reveals RMIT’s hidden Indigenous history offers a taste of Melbourne as a playable city, where ancient knowledge and new technology combine to reconnect us to our cities and their histories.

The project was highlighted when the global urban play community was hosted in Melbourne, with UK-based digital creativity centre Watershed and RMIT partnering with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), British Council and others to shape a full Playable City Programme for the city.

Householders at the centre of Plus Energy Buildings design

We know that buildings don’t use energy, people do – so what should be the role of cultural and climatic variables on the future design of energy-producing buildings?

RMIT researchers are contributing to a European project looking at household behaviour in energy consumption for the design of Plus Energy Buildings (PEB) – a type of building that generates more energy from renewable sources than it consumes.

The five-year €9.6M project, which involves 18 partners including research centres, industry groups, universities and social housing providers across six European countries, is setting the way for the future development of positive energy districts.

This article first appeared on the RMIT News website.