New Zealand Commercial Design Trends Series NZ Commercial Design Trends Vol. 30/9 - Page 84

Left:The idea that high-density living is somehow to be avoided has been turned on its ear by many studies. This graphic highlights key benefits to the city and its residents. Right:With the right design, mixed-use urban precincts can capture many of the benefits of higher density living, such as these Sydney developments – East Village (top) and Gateway South, Parramatta (lower). Advantages of higher density The advantages of higher density living are acknowledged by leading city planners, urban designers, economists and environmentalists around the world. They can be summarised into three themes: benefits to people, infrastructure and the environment. Planning and designing well are critical to harness these benefits and build stronger communities. The market must deliver a choice of high-quality, compact residential housing. Higher density is not only desirable for sustainable urban living; it is increasingly necessary for our cities. The population and economies of our main cities are growing, but the land supply is not. So what if we don’t densify? The average number of people per dwelling in Auckland is 2.8, a figure that is decreasing. The average floor area of new-builds in 2012 was 203m2 . We are building the largest houses of any developed country in the world but are in the middle of a housing crisis. How is this sustainable? 82 SEARCH | SAVE | SHARE AT If we let Auckland sprawl, we create isolated communities buried in suburbia. Fewer interactions will occur, and we will limit the benefits of urban living. More time will be spent alone in the car and less bumping into someone new or an old friend on your walk to work. But, if the density is raised in certain areas close to public transport and social amenities – our hubs for the sharing of ideas and creativity – the pressure on Auckland’s boiling housing market can be reduced. International learnings There are numerous examples of brilliant mixeduse precincts around the world. Cities such as Paris, London, Vancouver and Copenhagen have been developing thriving communities in this form for decades. Not only have these dense areas provided the reason to build outstanding public transport networks and spurred economic growth, but they have also removed the need for most modes of travel other than walking and cycling. Citizens of these cities are living in comfortable