Green with envy: bringing nature into the density equation

Each year we undertake intensive, qualitative research with residents from across South East Queensland. This work is critical to understand the community’s perspective on key issues related to development and gives us an evidence base for advocacy to government.

PARKROYAL on Pickering by WOHA

We have now completed 10 rounds of research thanks to the support of Construction Skills Queensland and our Industry Leaders Research Group (who are tagged below). A key theme that has emerged across the years is how much the community values nature. Greenery has such a profound impact of the lived experience and people want a slice of it. It doesn’t matter whether they’re buying a townhouse or living in an apartment, everyone wants to live in a greener environment.

The research has also shown us that delivering on this desire doesn’t necessarily have to be large open spaces, although the community does value the amenity of large district parks that offer activities for all ages. It can be as simple as delivering more mature plants on the street and on site through to the ability to nurture rooftop or balcony gardens.

The UDIA has worked hard to make it easier to introduce greenery on rooftops. We advocated to Brisbane City Council to change the definition of a storey. We did this because we know that developers seeking to provide rooftop amenities had to weigh up the costs, and potential delays, associated with an impact assessable development application. Not only do rooftops with greenery make a place nicer to live, they also deliver better visual amenity for the community and increase the saleability of the project.

Aside from encouraging more greenery in our most dense housing typologies, there is also an opportunity to green our established and greenfield suburbs. Within the low and medium density zoned areas, incorporating more plants and trees would benefit residents and visitors alike. More street shading in the heat of the day would be welcome and help mitigate the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in Brisbane. UHI can add up to 5 degrees, which is a lot at the height of a Queensland summer. By replacing non-permeable surfaces like concrete and asphalt with vegetation we can bring the heat down and reduce our reliance on artificial cooling, which lowers greenhouse gas emissions. 

Incorporating more greenery in urban areas requires regulatory change across the State, which needs to be championed by policy makers and delivered in partnership with industry. We have some brilliant examples of members going the extra mile to deliver amazing greenery in their developments. And we know the community want more.

To help open our minds further to the opportunities for greener development we have secured Richard Hassell from WOHA to speak at our Developers Conference on May 14. WOHA is famous for the integration of lush foliage into its architectural designs. Coming from their Singapore office, co-founder Richard Hassell will share insights about their commitment to sustainability and approach to building design exclusively with our members. This is an extraordinary opportunity to hear from an international architect at the forefront of sustainable architecture. You can access the full program here.