Too Much Sprawl; Too Much Density

Edward McMahon writes “When it comes to land development, Americans famously dislike two things: too much sprawl and too much density. Over the past 50 years, the pendulum swung sharply in the direction of spread-out, single use, drive everywhere for everything, low density development.”

Americans can easily be swapped for Australians in this statement and it will still hold true. The sprawl is on. Take Aldinga to the south of Adelaide and Andrews Farm to the north. The Great Australian Whinge is on too. Broadband blackspots. Ineffective public transport. People build their McMansion and then realised it isn’t all it is cracked up to be living a trillion miles from anything, without some of the basics. Need milk? Into the Ford Territory you hop for the ten-minute drive to your nearest mall.

I digress.

McMahon’s piece is on density. How high-rise / high-density is folly. He poses some questions. Questions worthy of answers in an Australian context:

– Does density always require high rises?
– Are historic neighborhoods adequately protected from incompatible new construction?
– What is more important — the ability of tall buildings to make an architectural statement, or the need for new buildings to fit into existing neighborhoods?
– Should new development shape the character of our cities — or should the character of our cities shape the new development?