Making Ginninderra a great place

In essence, ‘placemaking’ is about creating high quality places for people to live, work and play. Our vision is to use placemaking to increasingly engage our community in creating and evolving the place that is Ginninderra.

Most people can think of a place where they like to spend time, visit or live. Equally there are places that are widely disliked and disparaged.

What makes a great place? How can you make a good place better? These are questions that urban planners and designers have long been occupied with, leading to an evolving focus on placemaking.

“Placemaking is a multi-layered, people-focused approach to planning and urban design of the public realm,” according to Urban Placemaker with CSIRO Ginninderra, Zillah Gisz.

“Placemaking is about understanding and drawing together the unique qualities of a place, including the social, environmental, physical, historical and aspirational attributes,” says Zillah. It’s about human-centred design and making sure we put people at the front of our considerations.”

While Ginninderra is a science-led development that will trial and apply innovation and new technologies, placemaking will be essential to make it a great place to live, according to Zillah.

“Placemaking is about respecting the past, as we plan for the future. At Ginninderra we are connecting with the site’s indigenous, European, agricultural and science history, as well as the surrounding neighbourhoods and the broader regional context.”

The tradition of placemaking is well established globally with organisations like the US-based Project for Public Spaces (PPS) set up to help people create and sustain public spaces that build strong communities. PPS is a ‘hub of the global Placemaking movement, connecting people to ideas, resources, expertise, and partners who see place as the key to addressing our greatest challenges.’  One of its catch phrases is ‘it takes a place to create a community and a community to create a place.’

PPS has developed the Place diagram (above) as a tool to help people discuss, create and evaluate places.

Placemaking is being embraced elsewhere in the ACT, for example, by the City Renewal Authority with its vision of ‘creating a vibrant city heart through the delivery of design-led, people-focused urban renewal.’

Greenfield sites like Ginninderra lack constraints imposed by existing buildings or infrastructure.  As a site close to the city and predominately surrounded by urbanised land, Ginninderra is ideally situated to be woven into Canberra’s urban fabric.

“Ginninderra presents great opportunities to build links with surrounding communities and to draw upon the talents, potential, and interests of those communities in helping to establish the future community,” says Zillah

“The natural environment, including recognisable geographic landmarks and features can be celebrated through sensitive urban design and can contribute to a strong sense of place,” says Zillah.

Community collaboration is vital to building a new community and developing frameworks for ongoing community cohesion. “Our tree-planting activities aim to restore box gum woodlands, but also build community interest and develop a sense of ownership, value and respect for the place.”

“Through a purposeful approach to placemaking at Ginninderra, we hope to inspire urban planning and design, which is not only about science and innovation, but as much about people and place.”

Boosting our App-etite for health and wellbeing

Most of us know that eating vegetables is vital to our health, yet two in three Australian adults still don’t eat enough of them. CSIRO has developed a new app to try to change that – making for a healthier, more sustainable community.

Building on our obsession with games and mobile devices, CSIRO’s new VegEze app aims to motivate Australians to add extra vegetables to their daily diets and form long-term, healthier habits through a 21-day ‘Do 3 at Dinner’ challenge.

“We need a fresh approach to improve Australia’s vegetable consumption and overall diet quality,” CSIRO Senior Principal Research Scientist, Professor Manny Noakes said.

“Our research found two out of three Australian adults are not eating enough vegetables, especially as part of their evening meal. It’s time to find more engaging, effective approaches to help break these entrenched diet habits.”


To help with the challenge, the app has a vegetable intake tracker to tally-up your serves, with daily reminders and unlockable achievements to help keep you motivated. There’s also a visual guide to specific vegetable serve size, along with recipes, cooking tips and nutritional info.

“Committing to eating more vegetables every day is one of the most important ways we can improve our health today. Boosting your intake can be as easy as having three types of vegetables taking up half of your dinner plate,” Professor Noakes said.

“After just a few weeks using the app every day, users should feel more confident in adding more vegetables to their menu and notice some positive changes to their health and wellbeing.”

CSIRO nutritionists will also study how effective the app’s game-like nature is at helping transform people’s eating patterns, as part of a broader research study.

VegEze has been developed in Australia in partnership with Hort Innovation and collaboration with digital health solution provider SP Health.

Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd said: “Research such as that generated from this VegEze initiative helps growers stay ahead of trends, while also encouraging Australians to eat well using a wide selection of vegetable options.”

To try the 21-day ‘Do 3 at Dinner’ challenge and participate in the research study, download the free VegEze app via the Apple App Store

App-lication to Ginninderra

Good health and wellbeing are vital components of a sustainable community. Conversely poor health and high rates of chronic and complex disease provide great challenges for people and for the sustainability of health and community services.

Building ‘health and wellbeing’ into the Ginninderra initiative from the outset is an important goal for CSIRO. Urban planning, housing, transport, roads, footpaths, cultural and recreational spaces, all have a part to play, together with the activities, opportunities and technologies (like apps) on offer.

Just as VegEze hopes to motivate healthier eating, we aim to use design, infrastructure, tools and technologies to help motivate and make it easier for our community to embrace more sustainable practices across the spectrum of health, social connection, energy and water use, resource consumption, waste disposal, recycling, transport and environmental restoration.

Ginninderra vision

Ginninderra is located in Canberra’s North, and comprises 701 hectares of farmland, remnant native woodland and grasslands. The area, rich in local history and heritage, has been used by CSIRO for over 60 years as a centre for agricultural research.

As the city evolves, so too does CSIRO’s research. What remains constant, is CSIRO’s commitment to drawing on science, innovation and collective knowledge from the community, government bodies and industry, to transform Ginninderra into a showcase for sustainable urban living: vibrant, liveable, smart and sustainable.

Creating smarter cities is vital to the future of our planet, and our people. Ginninderra is a reflection of CSIRO’s commitment to achieving this – somewhere individuals, families and community can live, work and thrive.

CSIRO Ginninderra is creating the future of urban living through science, innovation and collaboration.


Secret recipe for carbon fibre success

What does CSIRO have in common with Coca Cola, McDonald’s and KFC? We all have a secret recipe!

In fact, our own super-secret recipe was crucial to the creation of the first Australian carbon fibre, made entirely from scratch.

Incredibly strong and lightweight, carbon fibre is a material of the future. It can be used in everything from bikes to satellites, fighter jets to high performance cars.

It took us years of research to develop Australia’s first “home grown” carbon fibre, mainly because only a handful of companies around the world can actually make the material. Each of those companies has their own secret formula that they zealously protect, so we had to create our own secret recipe so that we could produce carbon fibre here in Australia.

Above: CSIRO and Carbon Nexus researchers inspect Australia’s first carbon

For Australian companies that use carbon fibre to make their products it’s a potential game changer. Previously, Australia’s carbon fibre industry focussed on research and development, and were forced to use imported carbon fibre to make products here.

Now there’s the potential to greatly expand and create a new industry for Australia by mass-producing this advanced material. We’re also working on making it stronger and of a higher quality than anywhere else in the world.

Above: Australia’s first ever carbon fibre being manufactured.

Australia’s first carbon fibre was created using our secret polymer formula, spun on the joint CSIRO/ Deakin University wet spinning line, then carbonised at Deakin’s “Carbon Nexus” facility. It’s a great example of putting our Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap into action: using Australia’s scientific and industrial strengths to focus on advanced, high value products.

Above: Australia’s first ever carbon fibre being manufactured.

All of the work occurred in Australia’s carbon fibre capital, Geelong, and is a major leap forward in turning the region into an international carbon fibre centre.

While we may not yet know what the possible applications for home-spun carbon fibre are at CSIRO Ginninderra, we are certainly going to be drawing on the advanced manufacturing expertise of CSIRO and its collaborators.

<Based on CSIROscope article by Chris Still>