IRP4—Water sensitive outcomes for infill developments—is a new project delivered as part of the CRCWSC’s Tranche 2 research program. The project aims to integrate urban design and urban water system modelling/optimisation, focusing particularly on infill developments occurring in Australian cities.

Dr. Steven Kenway (IRP4 Project Leaders, University of Queensland) explained: “We aim to develop evidence-based design guidelines for infill developments at different scales (lot to precinct), accompanied by quantification and optimisation of their water sensitive performance.”

Work on the project started in October 2017, and is a collaboration between researchers from the University of Queensland, the University of Western Australia and Monash University, along with industry participants in different states.

Researchers from IRP4, IRP2 and the CRC for Low Carbon Living, and industry partners used a field trip (5-7 March 2018) to better understand two of the sites nominated for project case studies: City of Salisbury—East Precinct (Adelaide) and City of Fremantle—Knutsford (Perth). These two case study sites are in areas likely to experience significant infill development in coming years. Each has different features and challenges that reflect their socioeconomic and demographic profiles, water servicing requirements and opportunities, sizes of the household lots and governance arrangements.

Salisbury East Precinct (South Australia)

Salisbury East Precinct is a low density residential area with scattered underused and vacant lots in residential and industrial zones. Guided by City of Salisbury officers, participants visited examples of current medium density housing options, including some areas that the City of Salisbury developed directly and so influenced the housing solutions. The important thing for City of Salisbury officers is that future developments must meet residents’ expectations while also implementing water sensitive solutions. In particular, the City of Salisbury wants designs that improve liveability and connectivity, and ensure attractive urban renewal of the whole precinct.

At the workshop after the site visit, IRP4, IRP2 and CRC for Low Carbon Living researchers, industry partners and local stakeholders discussed several possible design features. Proximity to an ephemeral creek, for example, could create a unique water sensitive feature for attracting new residents and investment. Participants also discussed ways to use the existing stormwater-fed ‘purple pipe’ system for greening the precinct to improve liveability.

IRP4 field trip participants visited some recently constructed medium density housing neighbourhoods in the City of Salisbury. This site visit was hosted by City of Salisbury and co-organised by Water Sensitive SA.

“The field trip was useful for learning more about several sites we consider as possible locations for modelling different infill housing typologies, which the City of Salisbury can then use as best practice examples for ongoing development activities in future,” said Dr Marguerite Renouf (IRP4 Deputy Project Leader, University of Queensland).

The IRP2 team is also considering applying its emerging economic framework and tools to this location in a joint research case study with IRP4.

Knutsford (Western Australia)

The second site, Knutsford (in the City of Fremantle), features some recently established medium density housing among several large lots due for redevelopment, and is expected to attract diverse residents. Its proximity to White Gum Valley (with its cutting edge urban design) sets high expectations for Knutsford. Guided by Josh Byrne and Landcorp, field trip participants explored some of the highlights of the exemplar precinct, for example:

  • a communal bore shared between the residents in the development and the local council
  • a drainage sump converted into a multifunctional open space
  • the effective integration of multiunit dwellings with single lots and public housing and a novel concept of multi-owner communal housing development.
IRP4 site visit to Knutsford (WA) included industry partners from the Project Steering Committee, local stakeholders and fellow researchers from IRP2 and the CRC for Low Carbon Living. Landcorp hosted the tour.

At the workshop that followed, researchers, industry partners and local stakeholders explored opportunities for establishing peer-to-peer sharing of centralised and decentralised water and energy systems among residents. They also discussed other topics such as governance and opportunities for stakeholders to collaborate.

Looking ahead, Knutsford may also be used as a case study in a research collaboration with the CRC Low Carbon Living.

An old drainage sump was converted into a multifunctional open space.

This field trip was the first stage of case study development. Over the next few months, the research team will work on developing representative solutions for these sites that can be transferred to other Australian infill developments. Project outputs will include a catalogue of water sensitive urban design options and a water sensitive performance screening tool. The aim is also to integrate these project activities directly with the emerging outputs of the Tools and Products (TAP) Program. In doing so, we’re hoping to foster joint interactions between IRP4 and TAP team members and ensure the applicability of products during the research development phase.

For more information about the IRP4 project visit: https://watersensitivecities.org.au/content/project-irp4/.