"There's Something about Subi": Defending and Creating Neighbourhood Character in Perth, Australia

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Journal Article
Journal of Urban Design, 2012, 17 (2), pp. 189 - 212
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Planning policy in Australian cities currently favours a more compact urban form, but proposals for higher-density development are frequently resisted by residents who argue that the 'character' of a place would be damaged or destroyed. This paper explores the factors underlying this resistance and assesses the extent to which character can be designed for. The paper relates a case study of the Perth suburb of Subiaco, where the design of a major redevelopment project was shaped by the form of surrounding areas, but where long-standing residents claim that it is 'out of character' nonetheless. Reflecting on the case through theories of place, urban design and 'affordances', it is suggested that this rejection of the project owes much to the way that urban designers focused on replicating certain physical features of Subiaco's character, while neglecting a host of everyday social and experiential meanings that were of equal significance to residents. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
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