The concept of ‘urban revitalisation’ describes a series of initiatives aimed at reordering an existing city structure, in particular, neighbourhoods that are in economic or social decline. These initiatives can include an extensive variety of projects that aim at improving features of an area, and/or renewing a neighbourhood’s purpose, such as improving road quality, structure and public transport, redevelopment of buildings and structures, and rejuvenating public spaces through the introduction of new entertainment facilities like arenas and theatres, and greenspaces.
“The key [with urban revitalisation] is to transform areas by repurposing existing infrastructure, to deliver something that’s special and tailor-made for the diverse communities that live within them,” explains Lendlease. Urban revitalisation ties in closely with the ideas of placemaking, where the creative visions behind the rejuvenation of public spaces are developed through community participation, taking into account “people and their needs, aspirations, desires, and visions”.
With studies showing that 60% of the global population is expected to live in urban communities by 2030, there is an increased need for urban revitalisation – upgrading existing spaces and building new ones to meet demand. In Australia, 72% of the total population live in major cities, and the number is only expected to grow with Sydney, Melbourne and cities in southeast Queensland accounting for 75% of population growth over the past three years alone.
With the rise in population a key factor in the development and revitalisation of public spaces, greenspaces are becoming more and more important. With greenspaces bringing value to an area from both a community wellbeing and an economic perspective, a meta study of Europe, the US and Australasia found that urban greenspaces, such as parks and bushland, can increase local property value by up to 20%.
Additionally, with Australian cities still reeling from the aftermath of COVID-19, lockdowns have seen people find a new perspective on greenspaces. 86% of people now find emotional value in greenspace in any form, from city streets lined with trees, to green-filled workplaces and well-maintained hiking tracks.
With these factors in mind, many urban revitalisation projects in Australia are prioritising the development of active greenspaces in order to bring emotional and economic value to communities.
Urban Revitalisation Case Studies
With population and economic demands on the rise for urban revitalisation across Australia, many of the major cities have risen to the challenge with an extensive array of exciting projects that will rejuvenate old public spaces and meet population and tourism demands.
Urban Revitalisation in Sydney CBD
Sydney CBD is in the process of undergoing a dramatic urban revitalisation over the past few years. In 2018, The Greater Sydney Region Plan – A Metropolis of Three Cities was published, which outlined the vision for an integrated approach to land use and transport planning, with aims to boost the liveability, productivity and sustainability for a growing Sydney population. Following the aftermath of the lockout laws, the effects of COVID on tourism, and the rapid population increase, many of the projects have been fast-tracked in order to meet demand and revitalise the city.
The Darling Square precinct has been the feature of an impressive rejuvenation project, which has so far included new shopping centres, eateries, apartments, greenspace, water play, and entertainment centres.
The Central area is the feature of the next big project, which will soon see the tired and rundown area be filled with plenty of greenspaces, retail, eateries and an exciting new Tech Centre.
The success of the so far completed developments was seen in the recent winter VIVID 2022 festival – the first in two years since the pandemic – with millions of people visiting the city and taking advantage of the new exciting things Sydney CBD has on offer.
Urban Revitalisation in Melbourne CBD
Sydney isn’t the only city experiencing a grand revitalisation, Melbourne has a number of exciting projects on the go. At Docklands, the Melbourne Skyfarm will see a rooftop carpark transformed into an urban farm where visitors can visit, sample fresh produce and dine at the local café. The Greenline project will revitalise the north bank of the Yarra with an extensive promenade for walking and cycling, bringing the city to the river.
Urban Revitalisation in Perth CBD
Like Sydney, Perth is also undergoing a dramatic revitalisation with the Perth City Deal. The Urban Forest Plan will help to activate the amount of greenspace and vegetation throughout the city in order to improve its carbon footprint and community wellbeing.
The East End Revitalisation Program will activate the tired East End precinct by improving streetscapes to be more comfortable, safer and feature more greenspace and activities to engage people. The popular Hay Street Mall plan will see the area reactivated – particularly at night – with more seating, rejuvenated public space, more greenspace, and improve pedestrian walkways.