Future living 6


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Future living 6

  1. 1. Edition 6, 2009 GrEEn is the new black the people and projects transforming australia one street at a time City whisperer Jan Gehl’s plans to make us happier BrieChangers the social trend changing your neighbourhood house of the future When you talk to the tV, will it answer back?
  2. 2. future Living showcases global thinking on trends, community, identity and innovations that affect the way Australians live, work, play and invest.
  3. 3. eDition 6, 2009 Contents 03 Editorial 18 SnaPShot: ShanGhai Building the “Better city, better life” Expo. 04 Global VillaGE Big ideas and exciting trends 20 hot toPic from around the world. Communities making the change to a greener way of life are finding unexpected benefits. 06 thE tranSForMEr How the Danish urban planner 26 FolloW thE lEadEr: JaSon EVErt Jan Gehl is changing your life. The schoolteacher turnng myths into local legends with the help of his students. 11 houSE oF thE FuturE In the decades to come, will the household 28 briE chanGErS appliances call for a chat? Empty nesters, rebounders and downshifters; are you part of the trend? 16 oPinion: FiEld oF drEaMS The head of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens on 32 oPinion: ShoW ME thE MonEY big ideas for some neglected spaces. Find out if your superannuation’s working for you. → Baby-boomers are on the move, and changing the real estate market in the process. Read more about them in Briechangers, page 28. ← According to Michael Mobbs, “the answer’s always going to be food. even if it’s a jar and some seeds on the windowsill.” Mobbs is one of a growing number of Australians making the change to sustainable living in their buildings, their energy use and their habits (hot topic, page 16). the desire to go green has been taken a step further by Patrick Blanc, whose installations, such as Pont Juvénal in Aix-en-Provence, encourage people to think differently about the utilitarian structures which we accept in their prosaic form. Future Living | 01
  4. 4. editorial Contact Brought to you By teXt art future Living Magazine FKP Limited Contributors art director web ABn 28 010 729 950 Carol Booth emma simmons www.fkp.com.au/futureliving editor Ken eastwood Mail Katherine o'Regan Dr tim entwisle iMages GPo Box 2447 editorial coordinator Peter Freeman photographers Brisbane Qld 4001 Michelle Daniel Caia hagel Brian Cassey Australia Deb Light ian Connellan telephone publisher Cyndi tebbel illustrators 1300 093 174 Mahlab Media Dan warne Kate Banazi email Managing editor Genna Campton futureliving@fkp.com.au Gail MacCallum Cover Green tomato ©Photolibrary featureD ContriButors Kate Banazi Ken eastwood Caia hagel Dan warne illustration environment Design technology kate banazi was born in ken Eastwood is a freelance caia hagel is a magazine and dan Warne is a technology london, where she completed a journalist who lives in Sydney. television journalist based in journalist with Australian fashion degree at central St the former associate editor of canada, specialising in Personal Computer Magazine Martins. banazi’s art is Australian Geographic writes architecture and design and winner of the best exhibited in both the uk and and photographs for magazines profiles. She has written for reviewer category of the Sun australia. clients for her and newspapers in six many publications, including Microsystem it Journo awards. illustration include telstra, countries. in 2006 he won the Rolling Stone, Vogue, Elle and he has been writing about unilever, Business Week, circle MPa’s bell award for ‘article of POL Oxygen, for which she won technology for more than 10 design, PWc and insane the Year’ (Magazine Publishers best Feature article at the new years for publications including Skateboards. She likes to work association). his latest book – York Folio Media awards. She is The Australian and The Sydney with silkscreen, fabric, pencils, Australia’s Best Eco-Friendly also the winner of best Morning Herald. he attends and ink. » Page 11 Holidays – was published in international Experimental major technology events november. Short Film at the brooklyn Film around the world, reporting » Page 20 Festival for script and what the latest in technology performance. will mean for australians. » Page 6 » Page 11 Future Living is provided for general information purposes only. FKP Limited ABn 28 010 729 950, its subsidiaries and related bodies corporate, its officers, employees and agents (“FKP”) give no warranty and make no representation that the information contained in this magazine is, and will remain, suitable for any purpose or free from error. to the extent permitted by law FKP excludes responsibility and liability in respect of any loss arising in any way (including by way of negligence) from reliance on the information contained in this magazine or otherwise in connection with it. the contents of Future Living are protected by copyright and FKP reserves its rights in this regard. no part of Future Living may be reproduced in whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, including but not limited to electronic and mechanical means, by photocopying or recording, for private or public use without the prior express written consent of FKP. sustainaBiLity // Future living is printed on Monza recycled (excluding cover), one of the first papers in australia to gain Forest Stewardship council (FSc) certification. combined with its 55 per cent recycled content, Monza recycled also carries iSo 14001 Environmental certification. 02 | eDition 6, 2009 | Future Living
  5. 5. eDitoRiAL we can all contribute to building better community through ↙ sun Valley, shanghai Snapshot, page 18. environmental actions. Be inspired by go-getting Australians ↘ transforming neglect into nurture who have transformed their neighbourhoods – and found Field of dreams, page 16. unexpected social and practical benefits, including a ↓ House of the future, page 11. renewed sense of community. A s debate continues about the Emission trading Scheme, carbon credits and the various forms of renewable energy, it can sometimes be difficult to work out the right thing to do, or whether it’s possible to make a difference at all. recycling’s easy, but what about rebuilding your house to be sustainable? how about your street? Your suburb? in this issue of Future Living ken Eastwood has found examples across australia of groups uniting around the desire to be more environmentally sound, with great achievements to boast about Yarrabah (hot topic, p 20). together, not only are they managing to create best-practice sustainable developments, but also suburbs that embody the values of community and connection that many aspire to. there’s inspiration and innovation throughout the issue, as the director of Sydney’s royal botanic Gardens, tim Entwisle, offers his suggestions for revitalising a neglected patch of green (Field of dreams, p 16), carol booth profiles a teacher transforming dreamtime tales into new millennium teaching tools (old stories, new tricks, p 26) and on page 6 caia hagel talks to Jan Gehl, the unconventional danish planner advising our capital cities on simple ways to radically improve. as Gehl says, “crossing the street is a human right. on [Sydney’s] George Street you have to apply for it!” if your toaster talks to you, does it have rights too? according to dan Warne (house of the Future, p 11), it’s a gadget coming soon, along with a remote control that will get the coffee-maker busy, palm scanners instead of doorkeys and a toilet that ... well, no doubt they’re good for us, but do we want them? You be the judge. • Katherine o'Regan General Manager Corporate Communications FKP editor Future Living | 03
  6. 6. Wheel deal Australia is famed for its car culture, but Melbourne’s 2010 bike commuting scheme plans to get its residents out of the box – and pedalling. Public-bike-hire schemes, a cheap, flexible alternative to cars and mass transit reduce urban traffic congestion, clear the air and keep users fit. they’re already operational in Stockholm, brussels, barcelona, Paris, lyon, Montreal and Vienna. and now Melbourne is planning to become the first australian city to offer commuters the option of cycling around town. the Public bike hire Scheme is part of the government’s $115 million Victorian cycling Strategy and is expected to launch in 2010. Victoria’s roads and Ports Minister, tim Pallas, Summer fun announced in august that the royal automobile club of Victoria the new Year signals the start of festival season across australia (racV) and global town planning firm alta Planning & design – a great time to kick back and enjoy a surfeit of music, theatre and had been shortlisted with Veolia transport as finalists for the visual arts from home-grown and international artists. the Sydney $5 million tender. Festival starts the ball rolling on 9 January 2010 with a reprise of the racV/alta bid is based on the bixi system. launched last year’s successful Festival First night, when streets, laneways in Montreal last May, bixi uses portable storage bases to and parks in the cbd will be handed over to the public for a free distribute and collect bikes and is currently north america’s party featuring multiple open-air stages hosting live music, largest bike share system. Veolia – a global transport company dancing and activities for kids. the fun continues throughout that operates trains, ferries, buses and trams – is proposing January. across the country, the Perth international arts Festival Veloway, a system of modular docking stations that integrate celebrates fifty seven years as the state’s premier cultural event with public transport systems. and the country’s oldest multi-arts event. running from 5 February Whoever wins, the ultimate goal is for a fleet of up to 600 to 1 March, the line-up includes ‘under the stars’ performances by bikes that can be picked up and returned to any one of fifty the West australian opera, West australian ballet and West stations in and around the city, with Parliament house, australian Symphony orchestra, and Wesley Enoch will direct Federation Square, Southern cross Station, christine anu and casey donovan in The Sapphires. university of Melbourne and the royal Perth international arts Festival, www.perthfestival.com.au Women’s hospital in carlton Sydney Festival, www.sydneyfestival.org.au suggested as major hubs. this encourages the short trips that Pallas says “relieve pressure” on the city’s transport system and promote “health PhotoGRAPhs: BottoM LeFt AnD RiGht, © istoCKPhot.CoM; toP RiGht FAiRFAx Photos/DALLAs KiLPonen Grand plans and wellbeing”. Share-scheme bikes are built to withstand the rigours of while politicians discuss climate change, acclaimed multi-hire urban architect sir norman foster is putting a grand plan into touring and their action: Masdar, the world’s first carbon-neutral city. all-over blast of colour foster + partners unveiled the Masdar initiative acts as a rolling masterplan last year at the first world future energy advertisement and theft summit in abu Dhabi. the zero carbon/zero waste deterrent all in one. community is due for completion in 2018. Covering six details on pricing and square kilometres on the outskirts of abu Dhabi, helmets (required by law; Masdar (‘the source’ in arabic) will be mixed-use, there is still some debate high-density and car-free. the city is expected to house about whether they will be 47,500 residents and 1,500 businesses, including a provided, or byo) are new university, the headquarters for abu Dhabi’s expected to be released when future energy Company and an innovation Center. the tender is announced. 04 | eDition 6, 2009 | Future Living
  7. 7. GLoBAL ViLLAGe PhotoGRAPh: CouRtesy RMit uniVeRsity Pixel perfect Social networking site Second Life is more than just a chat zone, as universities and engineering companies turn to the alternate universe to test new ideas. S econd life, the virtual reality the space to roadtest modifications and a presence, with a replica of the school’s community which mirrors the real constructions before starting to build. the Melbourne campus studio catering for world, is now being used by public works director of la Salle, in illinois in students in australia and Vietnam enrolled in organisations to test construction and the uS has used the system to test and its multimedia engineering subject. engineering innovations. launched by model new plumbing systems, and Students in the Marine Production linden labs in 2003, Second life is an emboldened by their success has created Management course at canada’s Memorial interactive 3d internet community that the Second life Public Works resource university of newfoundland (Mun) built a provides virtual environments for residents centre, a salon for engineers and public shipyard in Second life that won the who want to escape from or enhance works officials from around the world. Excellence and innovation in use of everyday life. Second life is also becoming a valuable technology for learning and teaching award users create a virtual persona or avatar learning tool for education, with many from canadian network for innovation in which they use to socialise, explore and universities establishing virtual campuses. Education this year. conduct business. With 6 million users, and Melbourne’s rMit university created an the experience, said Mun’s adjunct an average of 38,000 logged in at any one island in Second life in 2007 that’s used by professor in the faculty of engineering and time, the commercial potential of Second students in its School of architecture and applied science, dr david Murrin, allowed life has seen hundreds of real world design for displaying digital sculptures and students to “gain a deeper understanding businesses set up operations within its prototypes of buildings that will withstand about the importance of material flow and virtual borders. extreme environments. the School of the positioning of materials when building Some engineering companies are using Electrical and computer Engineering also has something of such enormity”. • Future Living | 05
  8. 8. THE TRANS PhotoGRAPh: FAiRFAx Photos/PeteR RAe 06 | eDition 6, 2009 | Future Living
  9. 9. FORMER The Danish provocateur Jan Gehl has been changing the way that people think about city space and community for nearly fifty years. Now he’s turned his attention to Australia, inspiring, surprising and questioning the most basic assumptions about how we should live. words by Caia hagel Future Living | 07
  10. 10. “B eing sweet to people is the secret to he speaks of cars, he uses the old-fashioned term making a great city,” says danish architect ‘automobile’ and talks enthusiastically about the communal Jan Gehl, with the provocative air of an pleasures of village life before the automobile’s noise, experienced innovator. “being nice to the pollution and segregation took over. citizens is key.” and though Gehl is known he becomes lyrical when weaving these details into the for his wit, he sincerely means it. For it is with this greater themes of sustainability, safety and the epidemics simple premise that he has approached his nearly fifty of obesity and depression – all while discussing cities as years of achievements from copenhagen and new York living entities, and demonstrating the ways in which city to london, Sao Paolo and Milan – in systematically spaces built by people shape the people that inhabit them. transforming cities from their traffic-jammed, illnesses, “if you create space that invites people out of their into vibrant people-friendly metropolises. buildings, where they can use their senses to really he’s been working behind the scenes in australia’s interact, they can’t resist enjoying the activities that capitals too, making incremental changes to the way we start to happen there. Just like a good party, people have live and play. “australians are used to living with the a good time together if the ambience is right. this is idea of limited resources, so they are not caught in the exactly what makes an exciting urban environment too.” twentieth century idea of limitless petrol or water. this T is already a very good starting point. but australians are he planner’s unconventional ideas formed early also genuinely people-oriented.” in his career. “When i graduated from the royal it’s clear that Jan Gehl considers ideas much broader than academy of arts School of architecture [raaSa, architecture’s traditional arm. rather than speaking of in copenhagen] in 1960, i was already interested in how buildings, bridges and streets, Gehl speaks of people. like cities work,” he explains. “but it was meeting my wife an old-world doctor he emphasises the importance of the that solidified the direction. She is a psychologist and ↓ During Adelaide’s Festival of Arts, elder Park is made over senses and sensual experience for the health of not just she would say to me ‘Jan, why are architects so into an outdoor salon. the individual, but of the society and the city itself. When obsessed with form, and not people?’ which led to many discussions in our household, not just between she and i, but also with her psychology friends and my architecture friends – and this made me very curious about the interplay of form and life. Good architecture is always about this interaction. “So i decided i needed to know more about life – how life works, by which i mean people, how they move and behave, what makes them happy and unhappy – and apply this to understanding urban design.” Australia is a nation where climate and attitude come together to foster communities. Six years later Gehl received a research grant from raaSa for ‘studies of the form and use of public spaces’ and began to consolidate the ideas that have since been applied to cities internationally, with exciting results. the city of copenhagen, his primary laboratory for research, has for decades set a world-class example of what can be accomplished. the Strøget, copenhagen’s traditional main shopping street and Europe’s longest, was controversially made a car-free zone in 1962 – not by a city or council zoning change, but as an experiment by the raaSa, with the city’s tentative support. Many businesses on the street were opposed to the change and feared going bankrupt. Public protests ensued, but the plan went ahead. only two years down the track, the Strøget had become a vibrant hub. Shops along the promenade were PhotoGRAPhy: sAtC/shAne ReiD flourishing, and the area had become a popular place for people to live. the number of people walking along the street had more than doubled, because of their enjoyment of the public space and community life that was offered. Gehl had discovered his thesis in action, and his study of that change provided the material to 08 | eDition 6, 2009 | Future Living
  11. 11. We need meeting places in cities with their promises of real connection – now more than ever animate two of his groundbreaking books, life between betterment, and a great concern for the climate challenge, ↑ southern Cross station, in Melbourne’s city centre, is buildings and later, Public Spaces – Public life, the as well as human health issues”. a meeting place that also follow-up synthesis of the next twenty five years of rob adams, director of design and urban development encourages pedestrian experimentation and enquiry in copenhagen (see Words for the city of Melbourne, invited Gehl to help rework traffic. and visionaries, below right). Melbourne’s city centre. in 1994, a fifteen-year Gehl’s research uncovered quite philosophical results. he partnership and that produced the first Places for found that only strictly necessary activities occur in poor People research document, as well as what Gehl proudly quality outdoor space; that lower, densely spaced buildings calls “a city way out ahead for the twenty-first century”. keep the wind factor down, which invites outdoor activities adams is a fan of Gehl’s approach. “he is a jovial, in all seasons; that lit windows and densely populated good-humoured man, which comes through in his work. streets make street life safer and more inviting; and that he has provided a framework to measure the cycling and walking actually bring communities together, improvements in Melbourne over the past twenty five which makes them happier, and which makes the city itself years, data that clearly illustrates how the incremental ecologically sustainable and more lively. strategy of improvements in a city can be enormously Practically, this knowledge converts into very powerful in getting politicians and government agencies promising measurable growth-potential in the character to continue on this path to progress.” » of a city. Since bycyklen, copenhagen’s communal biking system, was launched in 1995, the percentage of cyclist commuters has risen steadily. Four years ago, it was 34 per cent, today it’s 37 per cent and by 2015, the city’s goal is to have 50 per cent of residents commuting to words and visionaries work on bikes. this will be a fivefold increase from life between buildings (1971) advocates the systematic approach to twenty years ago. Gehl’s research has also manifested in understanding and improving cities by studying them, adjusting them, 5000 new outdoor cafe seats, which have increased then studying them again, which is the scientific principle on which all tourism and extended outdoor eating and drinking to Gehl’s work is based. Public Spaces – Public life (with lars Gemzøe, nine months of the year. 1996) is a recording of the life of a city. it examines the living organism copenhagen is consistently voted one of the best that is copenhagen, its urban space and the human behaviours within it, cities in the world to visit and live in, largely because of what its problems and potentials are and could be, and how these have its dynamically animated outdoor spaces, which are evolved since his ‘winning back public space’ schemes began. it changed pleasant and fun to be in. Gehl uses these facts, along the way citizens viewed the purpose and function of the city they lived PhotoGRAPh: PhotoLiBRARy/wAyne FoGDen with the proof of their effectiveness, to lobby local and in and went on to be translated into eleven languages, and to inspire a federal bodies around the world to work together for worldwide movement of urban revitalisation. further change in all the cities under his microscope. new city Spaces (with lars Gemzøe, 2001) and new city life (with Gemzøe, kirknaes, Søndergaard, 2006), Gehl’s later books, build on his G ehl has been studying and advising cities in first two by exploring urban space themes from the angles of other australia for fifteen years, and admires this cities and from the perspective of today’s needs and choices. country’s “national willingness to come out of buildings, an open-mindedness with genuine interest in Future Living | 09
  12. 12. the cbd – not as a walking thoroughfare but as public space that you can linger in because of its ambience, greenery, seating and more good coffee – another Gehl recommendation. if Sydney’s car commuters are daunted by such a proposal, they need only look to Perth. Since Gehl’s first intervention and recommendations there in 1993, research conducted by Gehl architects has shown that twice as many people are now using the city centre and that there has been a great increase in public life, as evidenced by its festivals and outdoor events. the company’s analysis also shows an increase in satisfaction and town pride from Perth’s residents. Gehl returned last June and was pleased with the evolution – but there’s work yet to be done. “Perth can still improve by further developing its greatest asset, the Swan river, by connecting it to the city,” he says, “and enhancing the diversity of public spaces so that the cbd is safer and more inviting.” in adelaide, Gehl discovered that there were 330 unnecessary pedestrian interruptions on the walk from one side of the city to the other. he has advocated decreasing parking spaces (there are 35,000 as opposed to copenhagen’s 3000), rejuvenating the Mall by creating an attractive pedestrian access full of cafes with outdoor seating, and changing the shopfronts to make them more appealing, especially at night, which would increase safety and use in the space around them. ↑ Jan Gehl the urban planner is currently working with mayor B clover Moore on Sydney’s 2030 Green, Global and eyond the ‘holistic lifestyle’ that Gehl and his connected program. here, his study focuses on team encourage in cities, a general overview transforming the areas between circular Quay, central of today’s society can be confronting. Gehl Station, hyde Park and darling harbour into “an invitation argues that no one considered the human to enjoy the city more by cutting down automobile access consequences of movements like Modernism, which and opening life to walkers and cyclists”. championed large singular buildings cut off from other he would like to eradicate the long waiting time large singular buildings, separating work, recreation pedestrians put up with along George Street, which he and transport – and effectively separated and isolated feels is mired by british-style pedestrian lights. “crossing residents from each other. the street is a human right. on George Street you have technological and industrial advancements have to apply for it!” he says. further isolated people, who now, he observes, “live in he has recommended that the city dedicate George their private home with their private car, working on Street to public transport, pedestrians and cyclists, and their private computer and communicating on their that the cbd in general, which he currently describes as private telephone, and seeing indirect pictures of suffering “doughnut syndrome – sweet on the outside what other people are supposedly experiencing and empty in the middle” be brought to life. he suggests through the television”. restricting east-west vehicle movement, reducing according to him, cities should be places, indeed parking availability, dropping the speed limit to forty used to be places, where a person could take part in km/h, and opening Sydney harbour by connecting it with the “real stuff – what we experience through the senses – rather than what we are being fed in abstract images through technology. When you go out for a walk through your city where other people are People talk about walking as walking, you meet people directly, you see and smell and feel directly what life is doing and you if it was a mode of transport. participate in life. To me walking is more; it’s a “We need meeting places in cities with their promises of real connection, now more than ever – little corner of public life. Life because of all the scattering and privatisation that has overtaken the human experience in the happens when you’re on your past fifty years.” of australia’s place in this, he says: “What people feet … A high quality city is made love most is other people. australia is a nation where climate and attitude come together in the right way to by people using their foster communities with potentially happy inhabitants. “i say to the north american cities ‘if Melbourne can feet and their bodies. do it, why can’t you?’. australia is definitely moving in Jan Gehl | urban planner the right direction.” • 10 | eDition 6, 2009 | Future Living
  13. 13. House of tHe future Thinking of going to the doctor? No need – in the not-too-distant future your toilet will have given you a full check-up twice today already. It’s just one of the high-tech gadgets coming to your neighbourhood soon. words by Dan warne | illustration by Kate Banazi I magine a future where you carry a computer screen in your pocket, look up all the recipes published in the world at a second’s notice, or call your friend on a technicolour tV screen. What about a miracle techno oven that can heat food in seconds without a hotplate? Sound familiar? think smartphone, web browser, Skype and a microwave of course – but in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, these were visionary ideas of the best and brightest. honeywell’s kitchen computer cost $10,600 in 1969 (equivalent to $61,580 today) and offered blinking lights and switches to ‘read’ recipes. Video-phones made their debut in 1927, in Fritz lang’s famous silent film Metropolis; and from 1957 in disneyworld, Monsanto demonstrated a microwave oven to the public in its 100 per cent plastic “1986 home of the Future”. on the Microsoft corporate campus at redmond, Washington, the world’s most famous home of the Future is refreshed with new technologies every two years. there’s a teenager’s room with organic light emitting diode (olEd) wallpaper which allows hdtV-quality images to be displayed on the entire wall surface. a kitchen computer encased in a sheet of glass can be run through the dishwasher, while the pantry works out what food’s left, automatically generates a shopping list, then suggests recipes to suit the ingredients available. Microsoft is just one of many corporate giants and individual researchers in the race to define the gadgets that will make your life easier in the future – and » Future Living | 11
  14. 14. convince you to part with your hard-earned cash for “it was just light running over people’s eyes, but we very the privilege. quickly learned that people worried that it would damage “You may think a toilet is just a toilet, but we would their eyes or steal information about them,” he said. like to make a toilet a home health measuring centre,” the ‘home’ as Microsoftians call it, now uses a lower Mr Matsui, a Panasonic engineer, told The New York security palm scanner to get through the front door. Times. “We are going to install in a toilet devices to likewise, getting new tech working requires measure weight, fat, blood pressure, heart beat, urine considerable cooperation between companies with sugar, albumin and blood in urine.” all this information disparate interests. the all-knowing kitchen pantry, for could be sent to your doctor over the internet for regular example, relies on foods being tagged with id chips health monitoring. that allow the cupboard to scan what’s in it and receive three university of nSW students made world answers back from each packet of food via radio headlines in 2005 winning a worldwide Electrolux frequency. While it sounds outlandish, many food design laboratory ‘appliance of the future’ competition companies are already tagging their food with these for a prototype rockpool dishwasher. tiny hidden chips for use in stock inventory systems. their washer uses supercritical, pressurised carbon “uS retailer Walmart has a plan to have all food in its dioxide (not rocks, as the name suggests) to clean store tagged with rFid by 2010,” says cluts. “of dishes. it recaptures and repressurises the carbon course, if that date pushes back, then so does the idea dioxide afterwards, and discards the grease and gunk, of a pantry that knows what’s in it.” One of the things we are trying to do with the home of the future is use technologies that are more power efficient than the ones that we use today. Jonathan cluts | Director, Microsoft home of the Future. W giving the system an extremely low environmental hen starry eyed ViPs tour through impact, and non-existent water usage. Microsoft’s home of the Future, their mind of course, not all high-tech home ideas prove is usually on the experience, not the power practical or popular. Microsoft’s home of the Future bill. however, global warming and soaring energy costs director Jonathan cluts admits some ideas work better are causing a rethink on the importance of energy than others. When a past version of the house was built efficiency in the home. Even today’s home appliances in in 2000, iris scanning was the entry method for the standby mode use up to 8 per cent of your household front door – providing the best biometric security for a power consumption, according to a 2006 study by the home possible. british Government. Some of the world’s biggest tech companies are turning their attention away from simply cramming more technology in the home, in favour of studying efficiency. Justin baird, innovationist from Google australia, says that Google is working on a new online service called ‘PowerMeter’ which will provide householders with online access to live electricity consumption records, showing how much power they’re burning. this plan links to the new digital ‘Smart Meters’ being rolled out to homes in Victoria and new South Wales, which record detailed consumption data – right down to half-hour increments – and transmit it regularly back to the power company computers using inbuilt wireless modems. Google claims that households which have trialled the service cut their consumption by up to 15 per cent, saving $180 each year and reducing their carbon footprint. cluts thinks more technology is the best solution – “one of the things we are trying to do with the home of the Future is use technologies that are more power efficient than the ones that we use today. take olEd display panels: they use a fraction of the energy of plasma tVs, so you can use many more of them in a home and still not use as much power as one regular tV today. that’s how we can predict that olEd wallpaper could be viable in a teen’s room.” also, “starting up the compressor on an air conditioner creates a big spike in power use,” says cluts. “if devices all talked to each other, a power 12 | eDition 6, 2009 | Future Living
  15. 15. company could intelligently stagger the start-up of air conditioner compressors, smoothing consumption across the grid.” J ames dyson, inventor of the dyson bagless vacuum cleaner and the airblade hand dryer has a stubbornly british, pragmatic solution: good quality fans. “Fans work by using the halo of warm humid air around your body and evaporating it. air conditioners work by attempting to cool the fabric of a house at enormous energy cost, when in fact you don’t need to cool everything – you just need to cool you. our fan uses forty watts of power, while an air conditioner might use 2400 watts or more.” in Sydney to launch his latest innovation – a bladeless table-top fan that uses similar technology to his hand dryer to push air out of a thin circular slit and drags up fifteen times more air, saving power by utilising air induction currents – dyson said he doesn’t believe in invention for the sake of it, nor cramming technology into things that don’t really need it. he says his company has been working on robotic vacuum cleaners for thirteen years, but has no plans to release one until it cleans the floor properly. and what about purchase and insurance costs for all this future tech? again, cluts pre-empts concerns: although Microsoft’s home of the Future is designed to be futuristic, cluts says its designers try not to use anything that wouldn’t be affordable within six years. an electronic touch message board in the kitchen could have been plasma display, but instead, Microsoft used a lower-resolution, black-and-white display, which could be just $50 – $100 in a few years’ time. but practicality has never been the main purpose of these plans. We may now have the iPhone and microwave, but what about the hovercraft and the robomaid? the only limit to the house of the future is imagination – with a bit of wackiness thrown in. • Every room in your house will be affected as technology continues to change our lives. remote-controlled coffee? Waterless washing? turn the page for a preview of the gadgets and innovations making their way from drawing board to your front door. Future Living | 13
  16. 16. self-cleaning toilet how much is it worth to you never to have to clean the toilet again? panasonic has a ¥388,500 ($a4,634) model that might float your boat, with space-shuttle grade acrylics, sixty micrometer rainwater showers soap bubbles to repel ‘particulate matter’ and why is it that water inbuilt ipod speakers to waft soothing music to catchment areas always help purge the day’s stresses. it even has its own seem to be where rain isn’t energy-efficient lighting for those late night visits. falling? But if you added up the collective ‘catchment area’ of every residential roof, our water shortages would be dramatically reduced. houses of the future will have compulsory tanks and water filtration systems which will allow showers – as well as toilets – to use captured water. wireless, 3D, laser tv Forget lcd, Plasma and olEd tVs – the future is laser tVs, which will use only 25 per cent of the power of a plasma tV. couple that with technology that can already display a 3d image without special glasses (albeit as yet only in a grainy, headache-inducing quality) and wireless, high-definition video transmission over the air between lounge-room components, and you’ll find the tV of the future bears little resemblance to today’s sets. people-sensors in everything air conditioners, tVs, digital photo frames, light bulbs, Pcs and monitors – they all have two things in common: a never-ending thirst for power, and the fact that we all too often leave them running when we walk away. appliance makers are working on extremely low-power “people sensors” that will rapidly switch devices to ultra-low power mode when left on their own. office buildings have done it for years, but energy costs are creating a compelling case for bringing it home as well. net-connected washing machine the internet toaster may not have captured the world’s imagination, but that’s because the net doesn’t add a lot to browning toast. a washing machine on the other hand can make the most out of being able to get in fingerprint scanner door locks touch with you. unbalanced load? it won’t Some security systems already provide a carkey-style key fob that thud around for ten minutes or sit there unlocks your door and disarms your alarm with the press of a beeping anxously – one instant message, email button. but while you can still get stuck outside in your or SMS will do the trick. load finished? You’ll be the first to know. pyjamas without your key fob, it’s difficult to lose your clogged lint filter? You’ve got mail. another concept cleans thumb (unless you’re wanted by particularly ruthless clothes with a barrage of ultrasonic waves instead of water. vigilantes). one swipe of your thumbprint and you’ll be in like Flynn – though Flynn himself may find his print is unrecognised. 14 | eDition 6, 2009 | Future Living
  17. 17. thermo-reflective wallpaper Paint your house ‘green’ with naSa- designed ceramic insulating paint, while internal walls could be covered with thermo-reflective wallpaper. another idea is next-generation plasterboard, which includes a blanket of naSa’s aerogel: a rigid material that feels like polystyrene but is transparent and has the lowest density of any known porous solid in the universe. it’s also an extraordinary insulator. at present it’s prohibitively costly, but the march of progress should change that. the wireless home remote control still in bed; need coffee? starting the percolator will be just a touchscreen away on your home control panel – an iphone- style device with control panels to adjust just about everything in your house. it uses wifi on your home network, taps into the fibre-optic nBn for high definition entertainment, and uses existing powerlines to talk to your coffee maker, fridge, toaster, oven, lights, power meter, computer, etc. a farm in your kitchen no-one’s suggesting that we breed micro-cows on the kitchen bench (yet) but electronics giant philips has a concept for a ‘micro biosphere’ which grows fish, vegetables, grasses, herbs and even algae under one self- maintaining glass roof. the fish are kept alive with oxygen produced by the plants; shrimps will keep the fish tank clean – and make a tasty cocktail. the system also produces hydrogen and methane for energy. Batteries galore think you’ve already got enough batteries to deal with? you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. google wants individual houses to get big battery arrays that store power generated from solar panels as well as grid power pulled in overnight, so that the peak-period spikes in consumption will be reduced, resulting in less power stations. your frugal fridge electric car will need charging too – only got broccoli, anchovies and vegemite? your fridge will and for that, look for the tell you what you could make, along with a step-by-step powerpoint on the nature recipe. think of it as internet fridge meets Masterchef. strip. the plug is open to the big challenge is getting the fridge to identify what it everyone – the bill goes to contains. researchers are working on various methods, the owner of each car – and from cameras with image recognition software able to it’ll be renewable power, read labels and recognise fresh food, to radio-frequency iD that’s cheaper than petrol. chips, which are already added to a number of packaged foods to allow manufacturers and retailers to track stock. Future Living | 15
  18. 18. oPinion Field of dreams Away with patchy lawns and broken benches – parks are places to share, with options for their appearance and use as diverse as their community. words by tim entwisle | Photography by ian Connellan O ne of my predecessors as director of i’ve always disliked the instant garden, or the royal botanic Gardens Sydney instant park. i get tired of seeing rows of tree (rbG) encouraged bindii in the lawns trunks in a ‘mature’ garden, which bear little to stop visitors sitting and enjoying the resemblance to the hectic arrangements of scenery. clearly he saw the rbG as a place for the wild. a park ought to grow and alter like serious botany, not frivolous picnicking. its community – with pleasing disarray, so it’s a lot of people might think this a fine better to plant new trees every year. that solution for their local park, especially if it’s way there’s always a youthful sapling, a not big enough for a footy game and not gangly teenager, a few spreading middle- small enough for a laneway cafe. Plant some aged specimens and a stubborn old stump. thorny bushes, trees with poisonous hairs, if there’s space, local plants will encourage and lots of prickly weeds: pretty soon the the local wildlife and birdlife to visit or stay. park will effortlessly repel all outsiders. the but don’t be hidebound about imitating pity is it won’t afford insiders a safe patch to nature – very few houses resemble the caves sit. the better alternative is to encourage and tents of our ancestors. if the park is in people to use the park. Make it a place to share, a place for the whole community. Whatever the motivation for transforming a park, prickly or pleasurable, the first step is to A park ought to grow and find out who runs it. it’s probably the local council, and if it isn’t they’ll help track down alter like its community – with the owner. council will have to pass approvals eventually, and is a good starting point to pleasing disarray. generate community interest and support. it’s also a great source of local plant information and, in many cases, local plants. nearby nurseries are also worth a visit, as the middle of a city, stick to a few simple is the closest botanic garden: they’ll have principles. Plant anything that won’t escape ideas for landscaping and feature plants. into the natural bush, doesn’t require more Most botanic gardens will also have a plant water than is available, and won’t need the information service with a wealth of protection of toxic chemicals to survive. understanding about weedy and poisonous Sometimes these will be local plants; other plants – important knowledge for would-be times spectacular shrubs from another part park renovators. of australia or anywhere else in the world. if the rest is up to the park improvement the park is in a natural drainage area, or has a team, which has a lot to consider. Scale water tank, planting choices can expand to is paramount: how do you make a park include a few moisture-loving species. attractive when you can barely swing a cat, While it’s appealing to see urban and or more importantly a swing? narrow paths suburban parks as a network of conservation that loop behind shrubs and bridge across zones designed to hold and protect rare ↑ this previously neglected tiny ponds can seem like a journey through plants, and even animals, i think this is better space, owned by state rail, the wilderness to a child barely tall enough done in larger parks and reserves. Few of our in Lavender Bay was commandeered by wendy to peer over the top of the tricycle. For rarer species will benefit from persisting as a whiteley and nurtured into a grown-ups, a couple of majestic trees can kind of ‘living dead’ in the corner park. but it wonderland of paths, plants and lift the spirits. might help to make a point about our statues, freely enjoyed by all. 16 | eDition 6, 2009 | Future Living
  19. 19. disappearing environment, simply because it’s beautiful and park visitors discover that they like it. Gardening is about fun, fantasy and a little learning. colour is definitely in the fun category. Grey is the new black in gardens, but cheerier hues are better for parks – perhaps colours that signal seasons? Spring might be ushered in with red foliage, red flowers, or red shoots. the park’s centrepiece could be a giant flowering tree with pink flowers – something like the hong kong orchid tree. in fact, plants from abroad have resonance that can help bind the park and community, by recreating the flora of local residents’ home or favourite countries. remember what it’s like to smell and touch eucalypts when you return to australia after any length of time overseas? a few culinary plants and other bits and pieces from a particular region of the world can create a powerful garden in a small place. and a park needn’t be strictly ornamental. People in suburbs or streets with few private gardens might decide to turn their parkland into a community plot. the only restriction on what’s planted is that it won’t harm the environment. and if the plant yields a feed, that’s a bonus! there’s no end to the possibilities if the ultimate aim is a space to share and enjoy. a park could be created around a local sculpture competition: display the entries and start planting around them. or borrow an idea from a park in Willoughby, Sydney, and create a wisteria arbour so that there’s at least one month every year when lush colour and scent makes the space utterly unforgettable. deciduous trees allow in sunlight for warm winter picnics, while a collection of palms – dotted with some faux (or real) beach umbrellas – could be employed to spread extra shade in summer. Succulents are very architectural and are hardy survivors, but a little prickly at times. Perhaps mention of succulents shows i’m reverting to type. Forget all the other ideas and plant a couple of giant cacti near the gate: who needs community when you can read your newspaper in peace? a local park can be anything you want it to be. What are you waiting for? • Dr tim entwisle is a highly respected scientific communicator. he has worked as a scientist and senior manager in botanic gardens for nearly twenty years, and is the author of more than seventy scientific publications, including three books. since 2004 Dr entwisle has been the executive Director of the Botanic Gardens trust and in 2007 he was appointed the 12th new south wales Government Botanist, an honorary position dating back to 1817. Future Living | 17
  20. 20. this Sun Valley is one of six built for the shanghai’s “Better City Better Life” world expo, which opens on 1 May 2010. forty metres high and constructed from steel, glass, film and plastic, they are dotted along the expo‘s main boulevard. they are designed to gather and disperse the ‘essences’ of nature – sunlight, air and water – into a kilometre of underground walkways and gardens. the water is fed into the gardens, while the sunlight is reflected by the funnel’s panels to the base, where a gigantic cube refracts and disperses the light along the subterranean path. the world expo started in London in 1851 to showcase international invention, progress and production. Mass communication and travel has diminished the triennial event’s importance but shanghai PhotoGraPhY: GEttY iMaGES is determined to revitalise its status. the city has been preparing for more than eight years and is geared up for seventy to 100 million visitors. the 5.28 square kilometre site contains a main building covering fourteen hectares, national pavilions grouped by continent and an urban Best practices area with fifty five exhibits from around the world. 18 | eDition 6, 2009 | Future Living
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  22. 22. Hot topic H Think it’s too hard to go green? Across Australia optimistic communities are committed to is answer comes as a surprise. When i ask Michael Mobbs, the maestro who created a sustainable house in Sydney a decade before it was fashionable, what’s the most important thing we can do to increase the long-term viability of our changing the world one street communities, he says: “the answer’s always going to be at a time, leading the way in food. Even if it’s just getting a jar and some seeds and growing alfalfa seeds on the windowsill.” sustainability, innovation a lawyer turned sustainability lecturer and coach, Mobbs has been instrumental in a huge variety of and inspiration. projects, big and small. apart from the Sustainability words by Ken eastwood house, he’s helped design commercial blocks that require no air-conditioning and are completely water self-sufficient. he’s had key roles in creating sustainable villages and challenged governments to make paler roads in order to lower urban temperatures. and he’s turned the nature strip on Myrtle Street in inner Sydney 20 | eDition 6, 2009 | Future Living
  23. 23. roads into the future, trying to design from scratch truly sustainable communities or retro-fit their existing structures. local councils are increasingly employing sustainability managers and neighbourhood groups are banding together for everything from community compost bins to bulk-buying produce or solar panels. locally grown food is one beam in the design of sustainable communities, but there are many others too: compulsory energy-efficient buildings that are oriented correctly for passive solar heating and cooling, renewable power schemes, water recycling and treating sewage locally, integrating parklands and bike paths into the urban space, and working out how to redesign the very nature of a community so that it encourages social interaction. don’t assume these green dreams are idealistic 1970s-style communes of free love. Many are deeply commercial developments and prices can be well over the million-dollar mark. From brisbane’s massive boggo road urban Village – a visionary blend of residential, retail and commercial space that will also include the EcoSciences precinct for environmental research – to Grace town in south-west Wa, serious efforts are being made by developers, residents and some governments to redefine the way we live. Community spirit the winner of more than twenty five awards, including the coveted international gong, the Fiabci Prix d’Excellence, the Ecovillage at currumbin is one of the outstanding developments at the high end of the market. located on a magnificent 109 hectare site on the Gold coast, it has 80 per cent open space and independent water supply and sewage, with all toilets flushed with recycled water. Many of the 144 sustainable houses are still to be built, but each must generate at least some of its own power, use recycled materials in construction and into a community orchard, where native raspberries, ↑ the Currumbin ecovillage have extensive passive solar features (including internal includes a community herbs, lemongrass, citrus trees and passionfruit grow thermal mass walls of rammed earth, stone or suspended orchard, bike paths and among the detritus and bumper-to-bumper cars. “edible streetscapes”. concrete). “You’re not allowed air-conditioning,” says co- “i don’t think we have more than five to ten years until developer and marketing manager kerry Shepherd. “if you we have food shortages in australia,” Mobbs says. “Food design correctly, you shouldn’t need it.” cost is rising because people are paying more for water after fourteen years developing the idea, Shepherd is and energy and transport. Productivity of the Murray– excited to finally see people living in the village. “When darling basin is in freefall.” we found the property we didn’t want to just carve it Most of Mobbs’ time is now spent teaching people to into two-acre parcels,” she says. “We wanted somewhere PhotoGRAPhs: CouRtesy CuRRuMBin eCoViLLAGe grow food where they live – the so-called urban farm. it that was exemplary. We wanted to inspire sustainable could be on a balcony, in the local park or in a school. he practices within this industry.” says growing local food is important not just because of as well as the community orchards, edible food miles – how far food travels to get to our plate – but streetscapes, bike paths, gym, pool and other “it’s healthier, energy efficient and water efficient. facilities, Shepherd says one of the best things about “Food has a greater impact than a house – the water the Ecovillage is its layout, which promotes social needed to grow food for one person exceeds 5 million connectivity. instead of the front of each house facing litres a year. one small meal needs 900 litres of water.” a road, they are clustered into hamlets of six to ten across the country many communities are building houses, and every house faces a common greenway, » Future Living | 21
  24. 24. You’ve got to inform and encourage people really – we’re talking about changing the world view Laurel freelane | president, share