On why there’s unexploded ordnance in the planning tent

News from the front, issue 515: Planning minister Rob Stokes released a lovely new human-centred planning policy last week. But two weeks before another change to the planning controls went unannounced. Few people, outside the inner circles of planning knew what was going on. The first SEPP (state environmental planning policy) last week was loudly […]

What if social housing enacted a culture of care and compassion?

Long-awaited and long-needed, the announcement by the Andrews government in late 2020 that Victoria will build over 12,000 units of social housing worth an estimated $5.3 billion, cannot come soon enough. In the face of social, economic and environmental issues, this news is a welcome boost that will hopefully provide some solace in what will […]

Is this house losing power? Someone somewhere is going to ask “why have we got two Powerhouses?”

Here’s a cynical take on recent announcements concerning the Parramatta Powerhouse. It’s getting sillier… Just as advertising has become the product – rather than the thing promoted – we recently learned that the newly approved Powerhouse is set to become Australia’s very own Smithsonian, as though this potential equates to its delivery. This is magical […]

Williams on Covid’s great “levelling out” between subs and burbs

Can the impact and premium of the agglomerated knowledge economy of a CBD really be replicated in the disaggregated city? Follow the money. While we can all imagine better ways to understand what’s going on in our towns and cities, you won’t go far wrong if you know what’s going on in the economy and […]

Public housing: where are the architects now?

Opinion: This Saturday February 13, residents of the Explorer Street estate in Eveleigh, supported by Friends of Erskineville and Hands Off Glebe, will take to the streets in defence of their homes, which are slated for redevelopment. Architects who are serious about using their voice and skills for social good should consider making time to […]

On crab-walking to Damascus (while everyone else roars)

News from the front issue 513: The world has put creative and collaborative responses to Covid and climate on fast forward. There are even signs of more humanitarian and politically intelligent frameworks stirring. In the US the new Biden administration is focusing its Covid and climate action on outcomes that tackle economic and racially-based disadvantage. And cleverly it looks like these will utilise a whole of government approach, something quite novel in our part of the world.

Leadership: Why “unfit to govern” is such a thing now

It has been a year scarred by deeply visceral events – record bushfires and a global pandemic, confronting conceptual assaults, the peddling of grand fantasies, dangerous untruths, and toxic politics. How can we all emerge better and stronger from these encounters?  The government-sponsored pitch for Mattias Corman to become the next head of the OECD […]

Victoria’s home energy upgrades come at the right time

Governments should be investing in home energy upgrades, now. Improving home energy efficiency is a good investment at the best of times: it cuts power bills, makes homes healthier, and reduces emissions. But the Coronavirus pandemic and the job losses it has caused mean that now is a particularly important moment for governments to back […]

On what we don’t want for Christmas (a nonsense government inquiry)

News from the front desk, Issue 509: Just in case you’ve been too busy enjoying end-of-year drinks with your colleagues – as you well should be – news this week included climate sceptic extraordinaire Nationals MP George Christensen picked to lead a parliamentary probe into the legality of insurers and lenders “blacklisting” fossil fuel projects, […]

Why we need a betterment levy in NSW: better late than never

The NSW Productivity Commission in November released its final report on the Review of Infrastructure Contributions in NSW (PC Review). It controversially ruled out capturing a share of windfall gains made from rezonings or the granting of additional development, even though this is widely used in voluntary planning agreements (VPAs) and state infrastructure contributions (SIC). […]

On the Declare movement and moving on

News from the front desk, Issue 508: You just know when a piece of news is going to have a big impact. Last week it was that two global giants of the architectural world had resigned from Architects Declare in the UK. The reason? That both, Foster + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects, work on […]

Exposing a brotherhood of BS

Praise for investigative journalists like Marian Wilkinson who have a way of joining the dots without taking detours in diplomacy.

On the rise of net zero pledges that aren’t quite good enough

News from the front desk, Issue 507: So, Australia is on an economic tear so that means there is nothing stopping sustainability, right? Out of our recent Building Circularity came some gems of insights into the urgent tasks to hand to reduce the carbon in our structures. And the immense ambition and possibilities opening up to […]

Gardening for ourselves and Earth

A couple of years ago I decided to leave Sydney and find refuge in a remote valley from what’s coming. This is the story of that failed escape and the refuge I find in gardening, still living in the city.