As an early mover responding to the desired inner-city densification identified in the new Greater Adelaide 30 Year Plan, the Bowden Village proposal was acknowledged in its preliminary stages as a high risk project. In addition to the normal risks associated with brownfields inner-city development, the South Australian Land Management Corporation (LMC) expected “…substantial community resistance to housing diversity in established areas” and saw a need “to overcome adverse perceptions of apartment living” (Bridgland, 2012). Doubts centred upon high-rise development in an inner city that historically has favoured a more sprawled urban pattern.
In expectation of the foreseen backlash, the state government positioned their newly acquired and prime TOD site as a prospect for a world-class mixed-use development, and a “flagship project” for subsequent developments across Metropolitan Adelaide.
The LMC saw the 16 hectare adjacent ex-Clipsal and ex-Origin Energy industrial sites as an opportunity to set new benchmarks for urban development. Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Hon Patrick Conlon, highlighted the need to ensure Bowden became “the jewel in the crown” of a series of transport-oriented developments planned for the Adelaide metropolitan area (Adelaide Now, 2009).
Parallel to the vision for an exemplar urban high-density development was the commitment to cutting-edge design processes for the Master Planning process. Given the highly politicized environment, excellent stakeholder communications from the outset were mandatory. To facilitate this, the LMC took the innovative stand of utilising an Urban Visualisation Platform, in order to bridge the communications gap between multiple landscape architects, architects, designers and other stakeholders, and providing for continual internal review, option-testing and validation.
The process of collation, Quality Assurance, and integrating plans, drawings and instructions from dozens of client team members into a singular, comprehensive vision allows for the vision to be communicated, assessed and fine-tuned quickly. Ultimately the client is empowered with continuous transparent feedback of integrated design, and an efficient Quality Assurance process for precinct development.
Flow-on benefits include a communications vehicle with the ability to instantly cross language, cultural and professional barriers. The technology can be branded and finely detailed into a marketing tool that excites and sells the vision to investors, stakeholders and end users. Through use of the Urban Visualisation Platform for multiple aspects of the development process, various stakeholder groups were able to see a clear and accessible 3D model of the proposed precinct development and buy into the vision. Through transparent and inclusive involvement, the doubters became the believers and then the advocates.
Managing doubt and community concern through innovative technology was a stand-out aspect of the Bowden Village Masterplan. The added transparency in the development process created credibility.
Even now, when the ex-Clipsal site is still undergoing soil remediation, Bowden has been praised by the Property Council of Australia as “Adelaide’s first planned, high density, walkable community. It will soon become a beacon for home buyers and investors attracted to the appeal of new suburbs with in-built amenity” (PCA, 2011). NAB’s Quarterly Australian Residential Property Survey: March 2012 highlights Bowden in Australia’s Top Ten property “hot spots”, with expectation of higher capital growth than anywhere else in South Australia over the next year. For more information, see http://www.lifemoreinteresting.com.au
This article was written by Dr Ben Guy Ph.D, Managing Director of Urban Circus and Anna Bowman, a Master’s Candidate of Urban and Regional Planning at QUT. Urban Circus provide visualisation solutions for urban planning, helping clients create clear visions of their projects through 3D technology. You can see their work at Urban Circus