Archive for April, 2007

New group tackles Australia’s forgotten façade

One of the interesting consequences of Google Earth satellite viewing has been bird’s-eye critiques of architecture. Google Earth, reports the Los Angeles Times, has enabled people to look at cities with ”a new kind of architectural tourism… What’s changing most radically, in other words, is not how buildings look but how we look at buildings.”

From the crow’s-eye view a tangle of urban problems are apparent: a paucity of aesthetic considerations, poorly-planned physical infrastructure, density, congestion, wasted spaces. Most urban issues are invisible: water and waste management, effects of climate change, energy conservation, air quality, and loss of native habitat. Not so in many European and north American cities, where architects, town planners and landscapers are using very visible, simple and profitable solutions to all these problems in what is known as the “fifth façade” and the “forgotten façade”: the rooftop.

These issues were all discussed at the recent Green Roofs for Healthy Australian Cities (GRHAC) conference in Brisbane, where attendees considered ways to merge the ‘black arts’ (engineering) with the ‘green arts’ (landscaping). Another consideration is, of course, the ‘muddy-grey arts’: bureacracy. Luckily, foundation members of GRHAC include urban planners, landscape architects, horticulture experts and engineers. Pictured above is the new committee.

  • Back row: Raylene Mibus (Vic, landscape design, horticulture), Sidonie Carpenter (Qld, landscape architect), Josh Kidd (Qld, engineer), Robyn Shaw (NT, landscape architect). Front row: Ben Nicholson (Vic, urban planner), Paul Downton (SA, architect), Geoff Wilson (Qld, founder & president).

Crosss-posted at


April 5, 2007 at 4:13 am Leave a comment