_aila seminar – VIC living cities

This week Collie attended an AILA seminar focused on planning, design and construction of green infrastructure.  Five speakers including Peter Seamer [Victorian Planning Authority], Rob Adams [Melbourne City Council], Adrian Grey [Brimbank City Council], Jill Garner [Victorian Government Architect] and Sally Capp [Property Council of Australia] provided a wealth of insights into this emerging field.

Green or living infrastructure is defined as ‘natural vegetation and vegetative technologies like urban forests, greenways, restored and constructed wetlands, green roofs, green walls, bioswales and more that provide society with benefits like enhanced liveability, improved energy efficiency, improved air and water quality, reduced flooding and increased recreational opportunities’ [refer Living Infrastructure Workshop Report 2016 page 3].

Those at the event recognised that there are huge challenges ahead.  Even so this occasion provided a great forum for raising questions, issues and positive approaches.  Thoughts of interest included:

  • urban areas / cities are the key forums in which research and initiatives to improve liveability can thrive;
  • green infrastructure is more than a selling tool: it should be sustainable through the life of the building, open space, streetscape / urbanscape – the management is to be long term;
  • green infrastructure is now being recognised as an asset class;
  • it was widely agreed that canopy trees are vital infrastructure and water is considered to be crucial for the growth and survival of canopy trees;
  • barriers to the implementation of green infrastructure include the need to minimise risk, long standing regulations and standards and one dimensional design;
  • the Living Infrastructure Workshop held in February 2016 illustrates that there is scope for a positive collaborative dialogue aimed at breaking down of barriers and promoting best practice;
  • there are initiatives in other countries which may provide further approaches to be considered including those in Vauban in Germany and Skyville@Dawson
  • in Singapore;
  • local government is acknowledged to be a key advocate of green infrastructure;
  • there needs to be a collective repository of information on local government green infrastructure initiatives [examples raised at this seminar included the grey to green initiatives in the City of Melbourne [which include replacing redundant asphalt areas with vegetated open space or rationalising utility areas and repurposing no longer needed areas as vegetated open space] and the Upper Stony Creek redesign [which involves replacing a concrete drain with a naturalised waterway]].