A novel vertical approach to land use zoning, reserves, and infrastructure

The City of Perth has recognised the need for the CBD’s evolution. This has required thinking of the city as neighbourhoods that encompass multiple uses and looking beyond land uses on a just the horizontal axis. Spatial arrangements that create specific parts or ‘precincts’ in the city leads to function-centric areas that create implied, if not physical, boundaries and diminish the diversity of people and activities in places. Therefore, the City should be commended for this approach which encourages innovative combinations of uses, and integration into buildings.

This is the kind of shift required to increase activation to stem the exodus of the CBD population at the end of the working day as people depart for the sprawling suburbs. As the population of Perth CBD grows, and more needs are expected to be accommodated, the city is pressured to densify, embrace mixed-use, and consider alternative means by which to plan and design for CBD land use and infrastructure zoning. This approach is set to encourage different land uses and considers verticality at different levels of the city to help to meet the City of Perth Planning Strategy identified growth areas. The Strategy proposes a city of six neighbourhoods, each with a strong sense of place and community.

Its vision of a liveable city seeks to create “neighbourhoods with a strong sense of place and community by ensuring built form and public spaces are designed to strengthen the heritage, character and attractiveness of each unique precinct” ¹ and “Improving land use diversification for Perth city to withstand economic cycles…[permitting] flexibility by allowing for wide a range of land uses to promote innovation and adaptation to meet changing social, economic and environmental circumstances.” ²

Hames Sharley’s City of Perth Built Form Study helped to inform the Strategy. Just what alternative methods could be further proposed for city planners for the Perth CBD was the focus of this thought-provoking study by Emil Jonescu, Head of Research and Development at Hames Sharley. The paper titled, “Integrated 3D vertical land use and infrastructure zoning: merging divided precincts into convivial multi-purpose mixed-use districts in the City of Perth, Western Australia” (2022) was a natural extension of discourse he co-contributed to a published book chapter.³

The study presents a methodology and discussion relating to a case study analysis of design-led planning challenges in Perth’s CBD, and their impact on the city’s development and functional spatial relationships. The paper aims to contribute to and encourage discourse on current and future planning approaches and principles in Perth, Western Australia.

Vertical Approach to Land Use Zoning, Reserves, and Infrastructure Render

The literature review discusses how policies once designed to grow the city from an economic perspective has required a shift to also enhance its cultural identity which moves beyond earlier ideas of land uses. The former stifled design possibilities and the opportunity for mixing, vibrancy, and creating an exciting cultural centre. Therefore, the study focuses on community and cultural identity as the precursor to policy for design, particularly of a new multi-dimensional grid that is focused on design that meets the primary needs of the city’s users.

It also highlights the introduction of the Community Titles Act 2018, which can allow for design innovation and the delivery of modern mixed-use developments. Community Titles also supports some of the theoretical principles discussed in the paper.

The paper focused on several areas in Perth’s CBD previously referred to as ‘precincts’ (as they existed in the City Planning Scheme No. 2 2016) ⁴. However, given the urban scale, of the 15 precincts that existed, and the methodologies applied, an in-depth site analysis was constrained to an area designated ‘Precinct P5’, the greater area of which is bound by Murray St. to The Esplanade (north-south) and Elder St. to William St. (west-east).

The study used an iterative design methodology, a cyclic process of testing, analysis, and refining and re-testing as necessary. Frei Otto’s Attractive Occupation method was applied as way of optimising space, much like Voronoi diagramming to a collaging technique to create optimised spatial arrangements that were presented in the form of images. Site analysis of the area, mapping through ArcGIS (a geospatial measuring tool), and literature reviews were also conducted. This design process led to a speculative 3D vertical planning and building grid that accommodates freedom of expression and desire to create new types of spaces as critical notions in development and policymaking.

A 3D organic grid horizontally and vertically mapping buildings and the urban space between them intends to support a more flexible framework to accommodate an increasingly diverse vertical mixed-use profile. Layering and integrating the organic grid over the city’s existing grid, creates a lattice of interconnected spaces that allows people to move from space to space.

To read the research paper in full, see: Jonescu, Emil. 2022. “Integrated Infrastructure and 3D Vertical Land Use Zoning: Merging Divided Precincts into Convivial Multi-Purpose Mixed-Use Districts in the City of Perth, Western Australia.” ed. by Talia Uylaki. X-Potential, V.01 (4), Australia: Hames Sharley.

¹ ² City of Perth (2021). Draft Local Planning Strategy. [online] Engage Perth. Available at: https://engage.perth.wa.gov.au/draft-local-planning-strategy [Accessed 12 Dec. 2022].

³ Jonescu, E.E., Wuu, A. and Do, K. (2022). A Case for a multi-dimensional Development Grid for Perth, Western Australia, (Chapter 7). In: C. Donnellan, ed., The Complex City: Social and Built Approaches and Methods. London, UK: Vernon Press. 978-1-64889-477-0.

⁴ City of Perth (n.d.). Planning Schemes. [online] perth.wa.gov.au. Available at: https://perth.wa.gov.au/en/building-and-planning/planning-framework/planning-schemes [Accessed 12 Dec. 2022].

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