The new urban connection - Australia

Thursday 6 May 2004

IT sounds like a Greepeace manifesto for living. "Healthy, non-polluting buildings with cross breezes, re-cycled rainwater, thermal cooling systems and a rooftop garden for meditation." In fact it's the wish list - and the new reality - for a second generation of apartment dwellers. Their thirst for high-rise living is not satisfied with cookie-cutter apartments, little opportunity to express their individuality and scant consideration for the environment at large.

By The Landlord

New Australian urbanites want their heads in the clouds but they must sense Mother Earth close by - with a reticulated water system supporting a balcony garden and access to a park, a golf course or the sea. They want to inhabit technological pods, and still enjoy village life - it's the reason suburbs like Balmain and Rozelle in Sydney and Prahan and Brunswick in Melbourne are soaring with weekend activity. The desire is: go shopping and leave the car at home.

A second wave of young singles sees the suburban dream morphing into an unpalatable reality. They can't finance the quarter acre block in a new development and they now don't want it: red brick houses on lonely cul-de-sacs, garages too big, trees too small and a strong sense of isolation from the community.

Sydney's new Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, tapped into the new thinking, when she said Sydney's transformation into a city of New York style "villages" is her new priority.

New York best illustrates how high-rise and apartment living are essential components of village life: these large buildings breathe life into small businesses and the big communities they house sustain the art galleries, restaurants, boutiques, gyms, shopping and cinemas that are now deemed essentials in every day urban life.

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