Think Brick Australia, About Face Award 2009

Australian cites are experiencing considerable growth pressures, from immigration and the natural birth rate. Melbourne, in pure population numbers, is the fastest growing city in the country. Recent attempts to maintain the city’s civility, livability, sustainability and economic viability are being compromised by the recent announcement of the expansion of the city area to allow another 41,000 hectares of fringe farmland to be freed up for a growth of almost half a million people in the next 20-25 years.

This occurred despite the fact that every planning and design expert in Australian housing and urbanism agree that the most effective method to tackle lifestyle, access and affordability issues is to increase density in the city’s activity centers/nodes that are close to shops and stations. At the same time, valuable land used for car parking and located adjacent to railway stations and behind the high street lies underutilized.

In order to tackle the problem, PMA has proposed the concept of the Airhinge, a linear mixed use residential urban model which can be compressed or unfolded depending on the site dimensions and scale. The Airhinge delivers the site densities required for inner/middle locations and is a transferable model. Crucially it makes use of available land: it utilizes the air rights of car parking land located adjacent to rail lines and stations, and behind high street shopping strips.