Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
CTBUH Executive Director Presents at Chapter
Events in Sydney and Melbourne

March 7 and 9, 2017

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SYDNEY & MELBOURNE – CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood was in Australia from March 6 to 10, 2017 to plan and promote the upcoming CTBUH Australia Conference to be held from October 30 to November 3, 2017. While visiting, Wood made time to deliver two well attended lectures in Sydney and Melbourne, organized by the respective local committees of the CTBUH Australia chapter.

CTBUH Sydney, in conjunction with UNSW Built Environment, first welcomed Wood to Sydney for a lecture entitled Australia and the Future of Sustainable Vertical Urbanism, kindly sponsored by Brookfield and Schindler. The evening was opened by Professor Helen Lochhead, Dean of the Faculty of the Built Environment, UNSW, who introduced Professor Wood to a full house of over 250 attendees, including students, academics, practitioners, and the public, who had gathered at UNSW’s Leighton Hall to hear his presentation.
Professor Helen Lochhead, Dean of the Faculty of the Built Environment, UNSW, introduced Professor Antony Wood, CTBUH Executive Director, to a full house. Dr. Wood presents the CTBUH research project on Urban Sustainability, as well as a vision for a new skyscraper vernacular.
Wood started by discussing a theme pertinent to the future of many cities, including those in Australia more than most, by asking: which is more sustainable – high-rise living or suburban housing? The work presented a two-year CTBUH research project comparing the life-cycle carbon emissions of residents in suburban Chicago with those living in downtown towers. The results were perhaps surprising. Wood’s research showed operating energy emissions were comparable across modern high-rise and older suburban homes, while public transportation use was three-times higher in the suburbs. Although, he noted, this is likely due to the strategic location of the specific Chicago suburb studied – Oak Park. However, the real carbon benefit of high-rise living, suggested Wood, was in infrastructure savings. His research suggested the suburbs required 714 percent of the infrastructure requirements urban high-rise living used.

The second part of Wood’s presentation looked more specifically at tall building design, presenting ten design principles for a new skyscraper vernacular. Here, Wood charted a range of shortfalls in current high-rise design before presenting real projects and student design proposals that demonstrated how the typology could better respond to the climate, culture, and context of their location. In particular, he praised Sydney’s One Central Park, designed by Atelier Jean Nouvel, as “a fantastic example of a tall building that meets many of these design principles.”
Over 250 people were in attendance at UNSW’s Leighton Hall, students, academics, practitioners, and the public.
Praise was also reserved for other Sydney projects, including Harry Seidler’s 9 Castlereagh Street, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partner’s 8 Chifley, and the Swanston Square Apartment Building in Melbourne. However, Wood pushed these ideas further in his vision of sustainable vertical urbanism, suggesting “…the tall building should be considered as a piece of the city flipped vertically, where the buildings incorporate layers of infrastructure and public realm at height.”

Wood rounded off the presentation by introducing the audience to the CTBUH’s plans for the 2017 Australia conference entitled Connecting the City: People, Density & Infrastructure. The conference will take place across three cities – Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane – attracting over 1,000 attendees to debate a new set of guidelines and responsibilities toward skyscrapers becoming more than mere icons, and instead being “connectors” in the city.

Professor Lochhead then oversaw a series of questions and comments from the audience, including how the economics and governance of vertical urbanism might work. “We need new public-private partnerships to deliver this vision” replied Wood, “where both developer and city government financially invest in both space and urban infrastructure in future tall buildings.”

This marked the end to an engaging lecture, with wine and hors d'oeuvres served to the audience at a networking event that followed, allowing for the conversation and debate to continue into the evening.

Following the successful event in Sydney, Wood travelled to Melbourne where CTBUH Melbourne organized a similar lecture at the Melbourne School of Design on March 9, kindly sponsored by Arup. Professor Alan Pert, Director of the Melbourne School of Design, served as master of ceremonies, introducing Wood to the packed audience of over 400.

Wood's two presentations were well received and his design principles for a better typology for tall buildings and denser cities resonated with many, as well as being picked up by The Age newspaper, who attended the event and interviewed Wood the next day.
Professor Alan Pert, Director of the Melbourne School of Design, kindly introduced Dr. Wood to the audience.
The location of the event was also auspicious, providing a great opportunity to promote further collaboration with the Melbourne School of Design in relation to the Melbourne portion of the 2017 conference.
Attendees in Melbourne listen to Professor Wood present.
Like in Sydney, a post-event networking session offered fantastic opportunities to continue the conversation and discuss possibilities for further debates at the conference. The CTBUH Melbourne Committee and members of the conference Steering Committee were on hand with Wood to promote the conference and encourage participants to submit abstracts for speaking slots.

Taken together, the two events in Sydney and Melbourne not only provided interesting lessons for the future of urbanism in Australia but also offered an excellent preview of the discussions to come during the conference, as well as early promotion for the event.

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