Stories

Environment

Sustainability, environmental affairs and design innovations for urban living, now and future-forward.

Catherine Mosbach: Temporal Landscapes

Catherine Mosbach’s career has followed an unconventional trajectory, her portfolio of work emphasising the imaginary and designed with future generations in mind. Earlier this year at the Living Cities Forum, architect and urban designer Elliet Spring sat down in conversation with the renowned landscape architect. Landscape architect Catherine Mosbach is jetlagged when we meet in […]

Expecting the Unexpected

As global warming causes our planet to heat up, weather disasters are becoming increasingly common. Jeff McAllister, a chemical engineer at Arup’s Research, Foresight and Innovation team, investigates how we can use technology to create a built environment capable of responding to outside forces.

The Outer and Inner Landscapes

For the last four years, photographer and dancer Gregory Lorenzutti has been living in Fawkner, a northern suburb of Melbourne that was cattle country right until the 1940s. In the postwar area, the suburb was subdivided for housing for returning servicemen, but most of the houses in the area were built in the period 1950-1970, as detached brick homes for Ford factory workers. After a heartbreak, Greg moved into one of the original Ford houses with a garden, and has given it a new life.

Greening NYC: Piet Oudolf’s New Perennialism

Architect Elliet Spring lived in New York for most of her twenties. On her recent return, she was greeted by a different city: no longer so much a concrete jungle, but a city layered with rich, generous vegetation - from the High Line to The Battery. The turn has been in no small measure the influence of one person, Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf. Here, Elliet looks at Piet's seasonally sensitive, emotionally rich approach to planting, which has spanned a movement: New Perennialism.

Venice: Resisting Resilience

 Some of the highest storms have lately afflicted Venice. Volume editor and architect Francesco Degl’Innocenti reflects on the history of the lagoon, where the concept of dynamic equilibrium has been the cornerstone for the evolution of nature and architecture.

Heirloom Seed Hero

Clive Blazey and his wife Penny were early leaders in protecting heirloom seed varieties from extinction. His story features in The Planthunter: Truth, Beauty, Chaos and Plants by Georgina Reid with photography by Daniel Shipp.

On The Beach: From Shack to Sales Pitch

Jurien Bay and Wedge Island in Western Australia were landscapes once dominated by informal settlements. However, suburban developments are now reaching WA's central coast. Felix Joensson, from our West Coast partners Future West, asks the question – how do we create beachfront suburbs with soul?

Parklet Power

Parklets are democratic - made for the public, they cannot be controlled by private interests. In the latest instalment in our series of articles from our West Coast partners, 'Future West', researcher Amelia Thorpe looks at why parklets are so popular.

A Natural Alliance

In a time when extraordinary experiences are being promoted by cities, towns and regions as part of a tourist package, the natural environment is under pressure to enhance its existing assets in order to be shared, liked, meme-d and appreciated. Georgia Nowak – via 'Future West (Australian Urbanism)' – looks at how new tourism infrastructure in national parks could support their conservation.

Speaking for Country

Roj Amedi talks with Murrawah Maroochy Johnson – the youngest member and a passionate representative of the Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council – about climate justice, Aboriginal sovereignty and the importance of self-determination in the traditional owners' struggle against the proposed Adani Carmichael mine in central Queensland.

Question Everything: Joost Bakker

The son of a fourth-generation tulip farmer, Joost Bakker was destined to love soil. Each week, he drives to Melbourne in a truck laden with seasonal goodness to create his floral­–industrial installations in some of the city’s top restaurants. Joost calls himself an artist whose mediums happen to include flowers, farming, architecture, design, hospitality and sustainability – a zero-waste de Vinci of our times.

Tim Jarvis: 25zero

Tim Jarvis is a busy man. If he’s not undertaking expeditions to the North or South Pole, completing the first unsupported crossing of the Great Victorian Desert, or building an exact replica of the James Caird lifeboat to recreate Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1916 voyage, he can be found doing public speaking tours, promoting his books or documentaries, or working as “a sustainability innovator” for Arup.

Pasona: Plant Life

In Tokyo’s downtown business district of Nihombashi, the Pasona HQ building's exterior and interior hosts more than 200 varieties of plants. In addition to enhancing the working environment for the company's employees through the inclusion of decorative and edible greenery, the building’s built-in urban farm marries conventional and progressive approaches to agriculture.

Anthony Powell: Walking on thin ice

Since he first set foot on the stark, white shores of Scott Base, Anthony Powell has spent over one hundred months living, working and filming Antarctica. ‘Antarctica: A Year on Ice’ compiles over a decade in the life of the Kiwi-born engineer turned filmmaker, a meditation on the strange, hypnotic magnetism of this highly fragile yet tempestuous stretch of wilderness.

Organic Honey vs. Local Honey: A Brief Users Guide

The organic vs. local dilemma exists in all the food groups, but when it comes to honey it's even harder to pick a side. Urban beekeeper Nic Dowse canvases the debate from all angles and arms us with the information we need to make the sweetest, most ethical and bee-friendly choices in the honey aisle.

Concrete Jungles

There is a common misconception that experiencing and interacting with nature requires us to retreat from the urban environment. Here Asha Bee Abraham challenges this perception, revealing the 'other natures' that necessarily exist inside our cities, the importance to our wellbeing in connecting to them, and the simple ways we can do so on a daily basis.

High-rise honey: Michael Leung

On the rooftops of Hong Kong, Michael Leung has built an informal and unlikely hive of collaborators: artists, designers... and honey bees. After an apprenticeship with Mr. Yip, a beekeeper at in the Shatin region of Hong Kong, Michael Leung became Hong Kong’s first urban beekeeper. Here, Joanna Kawecki speaks to Michael about HK Honey and living the high life with his hives of apis cerana honey bees.

Warsaw’s urban oasis: Irena Bajerska

Tactical urbanism is alive and well in the humble rooftop garden. On a larger scale, architects Marek Budzyński & Zbigniew Badowski's design for the Warsaw University Library Rooftop Garden integrated technology and innovation, while taking inspiration from the surrounding context. Key to this urban oasis is the work of landscape architect Irena Bajerska, who speaks to Joanna Kawecki.

Local Wisdom: interview with Kate Fletcher

As one of the founders of the "slow fashion" movement, Kate Fletcher dares to push an ecological agenda amidst the normatively fast, fickle world of fashion. An agitator for change, Kate advises on ethics and sustainability to the government, NGOs and the education sector. Grace McQuilten quizzed Kate on her Local Wisdom project and what it means to reuse in a throwaway world.

The edible ecology of weeds

An afternoon with author & permaculturalist Adam Grubb starts with a harvest of garden variety weeds. Oxalis, nettle, mallow and dandelion leaves all go into the Vietnamese pho Adam prepares from scratch. I call Adam a “mind weeder” (no, that’s not a typo or speech impediment). Over soup and a forage, Adam shares his psychological and philosophical approach to weeding the garden.

The barometry of bees: Melbourne City Rooftop Honey

The story of bees is also the story of food security and ultimately, our future. Two people who've recognised the importance of the humble honey bee are Vanessa Kwiatkowski and Mat Lumalasi of Melbourne City Rooftop Honey, a beekeeping project that sites hives on rooftops and gardens across the city. Here, the duo speak bee health and proactive sustainability with Eugenia.

Cities as ecosystems

More than half the world’s population now lives in cities. Urbanisation has quickened dramatically in recent decades, with an estimated 1 million people moving to cities every week. Humanity is on the move and is now overwhelmingly urban. Cities have already shown their capacity to adapt and profoundly influence the shape of humanity. Now it’s up to us to influence the shape of our cities.