Re-measuring density: alternative methods for assessing and progressing Australia’s suburbs

  • YEAR
    Bennett, Alysia
    2015 Conference Papers
    Built Environment Performance Assessment
    Conference Papers


This paper undertakes a critical review of existing paradigms in built environment performance measurement methodologies within Australia’s strategic planning processes. It argues that current density modelling, which is used to assess the effective integration of population distribution, infrastructure investment and land use strategies, is more misleading than it is revealing. This is due to a fundamental misalignment between the reality of land use capacity and its relationship to infrastructure investment, and assumptions about reality informed by existing density measurement techniques, which establish an inaccurate and problematic base for strategic planning. The paper proposes alternative modelling approaches, based on dwelling capacity per linear meter of public road network, which more accurately measure population density relative to infrastructure investment than dwelling density per hectare. The proposed models also enable density maps to become a forecasting tool, tailored to measure alternative typologies of concentrated development, and a facilitator of density strategies by enabling density modelling to direct economically realistic and culturally appropriate suburban residential development. By accurately assessing the built environment, government can realign policy to the realities of current suburban conditions to direct the evolution of Australian cities in a more appropriate, realistic and strategic manner.


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