Journal

8th

NOV

Urban Design Frameworks
Urban Design Frameworks

Frameworks are a particular specialty of AOS - The founding directors were instrumental in introducing the urban design framework to Australia, through their work on Designing Competitive Places, a national policy on urban design. They have continued to develop and fine-tune the process to improve its effectiveness as a strategic planning and design tool.

The UDF as it is known, has become a standard process within Australia and is valued because it focuses attention on key projects that will be strategic to achieving long term goals while leaving a great deal of flexibility for plans to be adjusted as conditions change, as the inevitably do. The ultimate example of a framework in action has been achieved in the Middle East, where AOS Directors lead the development of an Urban Framework first for the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain; and later for the Emirate of Dubai. AOS has since gone on to implement a strategic framework for cities in China, including a strategic framework prepared for Yangzhong Island, the second largest island in the Yangtze River and a major focus for new development since work began on a new bridge link.

Frameworks are not only applicable to large urban areas, but are equally applicable to smaller urban centres and country towns. AOS Directors prepared urban design frameworks for five country towns in Colac Ottway Shire; Urban Frameworks for centres such as Deer Park; and coastal settlements such as sixteen (later extended to nineteen) towns in Gippsland and Wellington Shires. This last example, carried out in association with Meinhardt Engineering and Urban Initiatives in 2006-7, was the recipient of the Australia Prize in Urban Design in 2007.

Featured Project:
Yangzhong Island, Jiangsu Province, China Yangzhong is the second largest island in the Yangtze River, located between Nanjing and Shanghai. Unlike most of that region, it has not yet been overwhelmed by identikit industrial developments – instead it is mainly rural with an extremely attractive mix of canals and “linear villages” aligned along the canals. It has more than a passing resemblance to some parts of rural Holland, and is a very pleasant retreat from the hectic activity on the mainland. But change is coming, in the form of a new major road bridge that will link the island not just to Shanghai, but also to Beijing. There is a great risk that the industrial towns will expand to consume their best assets. The AOS/IUS team were engaged through the Australian Urban Systems cluster of the Victorian Government, to prepare a development framework for the island. The resulting framework,(completed in May 2011) provides a structure that groups the major industrial activities along the eastern half, where the Ports already exist, and retains the western half as a green zone with a largely rural setting.

It is a little more complex than that, of course. In order to maximize the benefits for the Island, the framework provides for fingers of green to penetrate through the eastern half, creating natural links coast to coast and recreation space close to the main activities. In return, clusters of urban towns are located within the green zone, providing highly attractive urban living opportunities within a rural setting. These clusters are planned to be the intellectual attractors: environments that will attract the leading entrepreneurs, investors and creative designers to locate on Yangzhong, taking advantage of both its industrial growth and urban amenity, in sharp contrast to what is available elsewhere in this region. This arrangement will help the island to move for a simple rural / industrial economic mix to one that also includes knowledge based industries. The team has also been engaged to prepare design concepts for a new waterfront city on the west coast, along an existing main canal alignment.

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