Water sensitive design through international collaboration

Ginninderra is proposed to become a test-bed for the latest innovation in water sensitive urban design and infrastructure through an international collaboration between CSIRO and the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology.

As a generally dry country, Australia perpetually faces issues of water availability, storage and prudent use, according to Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO Land and Water, Dr Simon Toze.

“A focus of our water management is to increase water availability in rural and urban environments for both human and environmental purposes,” says Simon. “In Australia we tend to have broad strategies and initiatives to capture, recycle and reduce the use of water where possible.”

“By contrast in Korea, where rain-fed water is relatively abundant, water sustainability issues relate mostly to improving the quality of environmental water.  Korea tends to focus on mechanisms to treat and clean environmental waterways or to add recycled water and cleaned urban stormwater to increase environmental flows.”

Despite these differences, Australia and Korea share common interests in managing water quality and preventing contamination.

Both countries are experiencing issues relating to existing urban developments and the corresponding human and ecological impacts. Changes in climate, increasing urbanisation and growing population, along with increasing needs to protect and improve the local environments, are placing greater demands on regulators and urban planners.

In view of such common issues and complementary research skills and capabilities, Australia and Korea have taken key steps to bolster their collaboration and it is hoped that the Ginninderra initiative will be a prime beneficiary.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016 between CSIRO Land and Water and the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) establishes a collaboration project.  The project: ‘Integrated drainage and supply through water sensitive design’ is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Korea Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“As we work to combine and exchange the complimentary capabilities and research skills of each organisation, the benefits could be very significant for each country,” says Simon.

KICT research tends to focus on water engineering and treatment capabilities, while CSIRO has a wealth of skills and knowledge related to water quality, treatment assessment and water use efficiencies.

“Following our Australia-Korea Foundation Workshop in November 2016, we are proposing to work together at Ginninderra through an ‘Urban Living Lab’ to be a test bed for potential broad application of knowledge, technologies and infrastructure.”

Participants in the Australia-Korean Foundation Workshop met at CSIRO and
visited Ginninderra and various urban water management sites in Canberra

CSIRO Urban Living Labs are being set up in a number of Australian cities to encourage innovators from wide-ranging urban research backgrounds to come together to create, test and refine innovative products and services in a real-life setting, with the support of CSIRO and research partners. Some of the key activities and outcomes connected with Ginninderra are proposed to include:

Through the Australia-Korea Foundation project agreement, a follow-up workshop to develop the joint research activities is planned for Goyang, South Korea in February or March 2017.

Sustainability targets underpin vision

CSIRO’s Ginninderra Project team has been busy refining the vision, and setting the goals, objectives, benchmarks and measures that will underpin Ginninderra and make it unique.

At Ginninderra, we aspire to partner in creating a world-leading sustainable urban community that is supported by science and best practice.

As part of the planning that will feed into the next stage of attracting an outstanding joint development partner, our team workshopped the sustainability framework including:

CSIRO’s aspiration continues to be to create a community and urban precinct that showcases world’s best practice in nature conservation, urban design, construction and long-term liveability. The aim is for the Ginninderra to be an exemplar, both nationally and internationally, with a community proud of its place in the Canberra region.

CSIRO’s priorities for the Ginninderra project include restoring and improving key areas of the natural environment, while setting a new benchmark for design and development.

Through the planning, design and construction of Ginninderra, we want to create a place where people want to live and enjoy living.

Given the size, location and long development timeframe, Ginninderra affords a great opportunity to trial, test and research various technologies, innovations and initiatives.





Project update – September

Our focus this month was on community engagement, with two neighbourhood drop-in sessions held in Evatt and Gold Creek.

The purpose of these sessions was to seek targeted feedback and ideas about elements that were identified as important by the community in the first phase of engagement in September 2015.

These included housing, conservation, roads and transport, and community facilities.

Additional feedback at the August sessions covered topics including the community engagement process, the impact of future development on residents of surrounding suburbs, and CSIRO’s role in relation to planning.

Engagement by the community in these sessions was both strong and constructive, providing a wealth of ideas for further consideration in the planning process.

The sessions also confirmed the importance to the community of:

Residents were also able to view the 701-hectare CSIRO property as captured from a series of locations using both 4k and 360 degree cameras mounted underneath a remotely piloted drone. The drone aerial survey led by a team from CSIRO Land and Water and Data61 has produced a visual record and basis for further planning and modelling of development and conservation at the site.

The latest drop-in sessions follow five years of preparation and investigation that led to the approval (in May 2016) for CSIRO’s Ginninderra Field Station to be classified as ‘Urban’ under Amendment 86 to the National Capital Plan.

As with all of our engagement with the community, we are committed to taking on board the comments received in future planning and design processes.

Feedback received from these sessions will be included in the briefing materials for the Request for Tender process to ensure that potential future development partners are mindful of the community’s expectations.

If you were unable to make it to the sessions, or have further comments or questions, we invite you to complete our community feedback form.

Affordable housing – restoring the great Australian dream

A growing population, rising tide of record high property prices, limited land release and broader economic and social change is swamping the great Australian dream of owning a home and even pushing rent payments out of reach for many Australians.

Is this an inevitable and unstoppable tide? It doesn’t have to be – according to some leading experts and creative thinkers.

The encouraging response at our Affordable Housing Think Tank suggests there is a groundswell of innovative ideas – for example flexible design, tenure and financial models – that could make Australian homes more affordable and sustainable.

But how can we make a difference when it has been difficult to achieve this in many states and jurisdictions across the country?

Short of a major collapse of our city real estate markets, it is difficult to see how property prices and rents might be attainable for many Australians, particularly the younger demographic and those in low-mid income ranges.

Recent reports have found:

A combination of factors is driving the market and compounding the affordability crisis. Of course our population is growing and ageing, but household and family structures are also changing, which often means we have fewer people in each house (declining occupancy rate). Put this together with the tax breaks and incentives that have existed for multiple property investment and it adds up to a lot of competition for the properties that come on the market.

Since new land and housing supply has not kept up with this level of demand, the asking prices continue to be high. Those with the ability to pay higher prices win out, leaving mid and lower income earners with a tough battle.

If unchanged, this amounts to a fairly bleak outlook for those in or close to ‘housing stress’.

While it’s possible to build more units and release more land, in a tight fiscal environment everyone wants to maximise returns to balance the books. Governments or landholders want the best price for land, while developers, builders, real estate agents and investors all want to maximise profits.

More creative ideas and sustainable and enduring solutions are needed.

At Ginninderra, we have the opportunity to achieve strong affordable housing outcomes.

The Affordable Housing Think Tank was a first step, bringing out a wealth of ideas to inform our approach . Two experts who attended were Dr Louise Crabtree, a Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University, and Mark Peacock, Director of Impact Investing at Social Ventures Australia.

“As people’s housing needs change, imagine if their houses had flexibility of design,” said Dr Crabtree. “For Ginninderra, I think we should be asking how it is governed – owned and structured – on an ongoing basis. The site is really quite special as it can set a benchmark and really push innovation in terms of affordability and sustainability for future developments.”

Mr Peacock said, “The Ginninderra site presents so many opportunities. One of the ideas that I’d like to see progress around is what a mixed tenure or mixed development type model might look like – catering to different groups of people at different stages of their lives. How do you bring together a wide range of individuals and families to build a community? Through a variety of housing, different types of stock, and potentially different forms of social infrastructure on the side.”

Affordability is just one of the sustainability issues that confronts our cities and urban environments. Some of the others are water, energy and resource consumption, waste and environmental impacts.

We believe that with a lot of planning, collaboration and co-operation, it is possible to address them all in a sustainable urban development at Ginninderra.