Magazine article New Internationalist

Eco-City Dreaming Comes True

Magazine article New Internationalist

Eco-City Dreaming Comes True

Article excerpt

When we were asked what our dream features would be for a sustainable-living community, it all seemed pretty pie-in-thesky, but the suggestions rolled in. We wanted a green community, comfortable for the residents but kind to the environment. We wanted a working alternative to urban sprawl. We wanted to help heal the web of life by bringing biodiversity back into the city. And we wanted a community, not just a collection of disconnected dwellings.

It was 1999 and I was a member of Urban Ecology Australia. An allotment had been purchased for the development of our dream community, Christie Walk. Fast-forward a decade and if you visit that allotment now, you'll find the vision has become reality. Christie Walk has all the physical characteristics that we wanted - compact, low-impact apartments and townhouses that are a joy to live in, solar power generation, passive solar ventilation and good insulation, large-scale stormwater harvesting, minimized car-impact, and great biodiversity in the superb greenery that's so abundant.

But technical innovation doesn't make a community. That's where clever design came to the fore. Architect and co-founder of Urban Ecology, Paul Downton, insisted that the development would work better with fewer car-parking spaces and more planting, seating and a shared kitchen garden. So, instead of the usual apartment-block landscape of driveways and parked cars, Christie Walk is a welcoming, green place that invites residents to wander through the garden, sit for a while and chat, or maybe go up to the rooftop garden for quiet meditation or a sunset meal. …

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