Breathing Spaces in Inner Urban Neighbourhoods in Sydney: The Impact of Sustainable Open Spaces

By Mamun Rashid and Dilshad Rahat Ara.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Given the drive for densification in New South Wales planning policies in the last few decades, the issue of natural features and green spaces is now of great concern among urban residents and researchers. Having outdoor spaces is challenging in a dense urban setting of inner areas, where spaces are at a premium. Moreover, within context of scarcity of open areas in the inner city, spaces within the building such as inner courtyards or balconies have the potential to serve as outdoor or open green spaces. Here, we examine a crucial question – do the users in higher density setting value the outdoor spaces and greenery? This article investigates a residential development in inner Sydney using survey and observations. The buildings in these complexes were arranged in a designed master plan, with close proximity to parks. The paper broadens the concept and extent of conventional outdoor spaces to areas within the buildings. Also highlighted is the importance of these spaces by identifying various functions that are actually carried out by users in these spaces. The findings improve our understanding of the physical characteristics of designed spaces that may influence social contact and provide evidence that greenery plays an important role in creating useful outdoor spaces.In addition, we examine a few questions - do the users in higher density setting value the thoughtfully designed spaces? Are designers aware of the users' responses of the outdoor spaces? Given the fact that designers rarely revisit a completed project – is there a congruence between the users’ perceptions of the outdoor spaces and the designers initial intentions? The article is centred around a study that was conducted at eight residential complexes in inner Sydney using survey, interview and visual materials. The buildings in these complexes were arranged in a designed master plan, with close proximity to parks. The paper further broadens the concept and extent of conventional outdoor spaces to areas within the buildings – such as transitional and open areas, e.g., balconies and courtyards in relation to the users’ perceptions and experiences. Also highlighted is the importance of these spaces by identifying various functions that are actually carried out by users in these spaces. The findings improve and broaden our understanding of the physical characteristics of designed spaces that may influence social contact and provide evidence that greenery plays an important role in creating effective outdoor spaces.

Keywords: Outdoor Space, Greenery, Urban Setting, Ecological Design, Users’ Perception

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 10, Issue 2, July 2015, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 563.998KB).

Dr. Mamun Rashid

Assistant Professor, Architectural Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Dr. Dilshad Rahat Ara

Assistant Professor, Architectural Engineering, FOE (Faculty of Engineering), United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates