Bowden to become model for urban living

The challenge has been issued: deliver a new, exciting model for city-fringe living unlike anything ever before seen in Adelaide.

For those of us involved in the $1 billion Bowden development on the edge of the CBD, this challenge from stakeholders – including the local community – represents an exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of something truly special.

Indeed, Bowden is going to change the way people live in Adelaide.

As South Australia’s first large-scale urban infill development, and with backing from the State Government, Bowden is set to become a world-class inner-city environment where people will be given the chance to live their lives differently.

Modern housing styles new to the Adelaide landscape will be introduced to provide an alternative to the standard residential options available in near-city suburbs. People will be encouraged to walk more rather than use their car, while parks, piazza spaces, art galleries, fresh food markets, offices, cafes and restaurants will all be developed to create a vibrant community.

I have worked as an architect for over 50 years and have had the privilege of working on some amazing projects all over the world, including many closer to home such as Penfolds’ highly acclaimed Magill Estate Winery. Of the projects that have been similar in size and scale to Bowden, I can tell you there have been very few so firmly focused on the long-term big picture view, as is the case at Bowden, where a well considered masterplan gets it off to a really great start. It’s refreshing to say the least.

Crucial to the success of the project though are the buildings themselves where good design will be key.

As Chair of the Bowden Design Review Panel – which has brought together the State’s top architects, including the Government Architect – my role is to work with the Urban Renewal Authority and help guide the residential, retail and office developments at Bowden over the next decade to ensure the highest design standards are met across the entire project.

Under the direction of the Urban Renewal Authority, robust building design guidelines have been put in place for developers, builders and architects to make sure the end product matches our vision for Bowden, which is to inspire people through heightened levels of creativity, connectivity and great design.

And great design must respond both to its environment and to user needs; that is, those things that improve the quality of day-to-day living.

Buildings at Bowden will be efficiently planned with every bit of floor space contributing to good living. We want environmentally sustainable design, incorporating good solar access and cross ventilation, but we will also give high priority to functional needs such as outdoor living areas, and spaces for storage and clothes drying.

Bowden will be defined by a built form that has a subtle reference to its utilitarian past with building forms, materials and colours paying tribute to that past, but without resorting to any historic ‘cloning’.

As a result, the successful architectural outcomes are likely to contain masonry and a cohesive palette of materials such as red brick, stone and concrete, plus considered use of glass, steel and rendered detail. This built form character will then be reinforced with dense street tree planting, high quality paving and street furniture, together with local storytelling through public artworks.

The density of homes and buildings within Bowden will become one of its key selling points. High quality, higher density living demands intelligent planning and this will certainly be enforced at Bowden. Apartments and townhouses will offer excellent levels of comfort and convenience and provide a sense of space that defies their footprint.

Bowden offers a fantastic opportunity to create a development of a quality not seen before in SA. And what an enviable site to work with: A 16-hectare blank canvas on the doorstep to the city, this site is large enough to create a true neighbourhood, a real community, a place people want to be.

It is my hope that Bowden becomes a demonstration of the highest quality building design, urban development and expanded housing choices, all linked to the city by a new pedestrian bridge, bike trails and upgraded public transport. We want life on the streets and a high level of community interaction, and must design buildings and plan streetscapes and public domains accordingly.

Ultimately, Bowden should set a completely new standard for establishing similar communities across Adelaide and, as the Bowden marketing message attests, create a ‘life more interesting’.

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