Most major cities in Australia expect significant infill development over the coming decades. Without significant intervention, 'business as usual' is expected to have considerable influence on the hydrology, resources efficiency, liveability and amenity of our cities. This project aims to develop and apply a performance framework to understand infill impacts, create design options and processes through case studies, and identify improved governance options and arrangements.

The project builds on previous CRCWSC research that developed an urban metabolism framework  (Project B1.2 Catchment scale landscape planning for water sensitive city-regions in an age of climate change), documented best practice water sensitive urban design (Project D5.1 Urban intensification and green infrastructure: towards a water sensitive city), and identified the cooling effects of water sensitive practices in urban renewal works (Project B3.2 The design of the public realm to enhance urban microclimates). The project will also utilise a range of existing CRCWSC tools and products such as the WSC Toolkit (Project D1.5 Water Sensitive Cities Modelling Toolkit) and the WSC Index (Project D6.2 Developing a Water Sensitive Cities Index).

The project principally focuses on developments from individual lots through to the precinct scale. To achieve its objectives, the project will work closely with the TAP (Tools and Products) program, IRP3 (Evidence-based integrated urban planning across different scales) and IRP2 (Comprehensive economic evaluation framework). The work will be underpinned by strong stakeholder engagement, overseen and chaired by an end-user steering committee. Ultimately, the work is expected to contribute to improved infill governance.


This project will deliver the following outputs:

  • An infill development evaluation framework to understand and manage infill impacts. The framework focuses primarily on quantifying hydrological performance of infill and related design. It allows identification of opportunities specific to different developments.
  • A catalogue of water sensitive design options for different scale typologies.
  • Identification of improved governance arrangements in conjunction with real world projects with modelling analysis to support selection of optimal outcomes.
  • Case studies that have applied the infill development evaluation framework.

Work Packages

details not yet available for release.

This work package ensures integration of distributed knowledge and disciplinary expertise of different team members in different fields. Establishing a common knowledge base builds the context of the project. This work package includes review of the existing institutional context (guidelines, legislative frameworks, policies) and current design practice (technologies, typologies of urban infill development). Tasks undertaken at this stage will inform case study development (typologies of urban infill), options design (based on available technologies) and guidelines for water sensitive design. They will also provide initial insights into potential barriers to water sensitive infill implementation that will be diagnosed later through the review of governance and design guidelines.

This work package aims to develop a performance evaluation framework for infill development. The developed framework will provide performance indicators to be used to evaluate proposed infill development and alternative configurations. It will build on a range of frameworks that have been developed in the CRCWSC. This includes the Urban Metabolism (water mass balance) Framework (B1.2) relevant for performance quantification, but also an existing infill framework (from D5.1). In addition, scientific outcomes across the CRCWSC (including insight into new technologies, decentralised systems risk, energy consumption, and urban heat island impacts) will be incorporated into this infill development performance evaluation framework. The work by Renouf et al. (2017) and Farooqui et al. (2016) provide foundation for work package 3. Their work built on concepts of water sensitive urban design (See Figure 5), to develop a quantitative evaluation framework. Figure 6 presents the core of the CRCWSC “Urban metabolism evaluation framework for water” (UMEF4Water). Noting that the inputs include modelled and empirical data, for a defined boundary. Quantitative indicators derived include (i) hydrological performance (ii) water supply internalisation and (iii) overall water efficiency.

This work package focuses on identifying case studies of infill development and designing options that can make them water sensitive. It is envisioned that at least 2 case study areas from different states will be identified, according to specific criteria. This work package has a strong focus on architectural design and will inform options for performance assessment.

In this work package we will apply the evaluation framework to assess the case studies. This allows us to test and refine the framework. For each selected case study, the current baseline (~2017), Business-as-Usual and pre-development status will be first characterised for their water-sensitive performance, representing by water mass balance and related performance indicators. This establishes a reference point against which different options can be evaluated.

In the options assessment, different water-sensitive options would be applied to each case study to assess their performance. Feedback and consultation with the design team will help identify possible options. Reviewing of national design guidelines will also support option identification and development. Evaluation would be based on the key performance indicators in the developed framework. It is expected that the performance indicators would include (i) water efficiency, (ii) water supply internalisation, and (iii) hydrological performance. This options analysis would also allow us to identify what may be the best-practice water-sensitive solution for a given context.

Both the baseline characterisation and options analysis help test and refine the framework. An evaluation framework based on water mass balance integrated with modelled outputs from detailed modelling platforms such as MUSIC and SOURCE will be the expected outcome of this testing and refinement process.

This work package will focus on translating the outcomes of the case study assessments into practice. It will focus of two main components: (i) developing design guidelines for water sensitive infill of different typologies, and (ii) exploring the interfaces between design and institutional framework and diagnosing the opportunities and barriers of guidelines implementation.

Realisation of this work packages is strongly contingent on receiving co-funding from local governments interested in implementing the proposed solutions in the area under their jurisdiction. If co-funding for this work package is obtained, a demonstration infill development will be constructed to showcase the implementation of the research outcomes and recommendations in practice. It is envisioned that an appropriate site will be identified among the case studies that have not begun construction phase yet.


Final report

The CRC for Water Sensitive Cities’ Water sensitive outcomes for infill development research project (IRP4) aimed to better understand the impacts of business-as-usual infill development, and create design alternatives that deliver superior outcomes in terms of liveability, hydrological performance and resource efficiency.

This report summarises the findings of this research and explains the project’s three main outputs:

  • the Infill Performance Evaluation Framework, which assess the water sensitive outcomes from infill development
  • the Site-scale Urban Water Mass Balance Assessment (SUWMBA) Tool, which quantifies all the water flows associated with an urban area
  • the Infill Typologies Catalogue, which contains a range of housing typologies that support higher urban densities while at the same time enhancing environmental performance.

It also discusses the application of these outputs in various locations around Australia.

Typologies Catalogue 

This catalogue contains designs for water sensitive housing typologies to inform better residential infill practice. It includes a range of housing typologies, at densities and configurations relevant to Australian cities, and applicable to contemporary infill development scenarios. The designs have been informed by evaluations of water sensitivity, urban space quality and urban heat using the Infill Performance Evaluation Framework, also developed by the IRP4 project.

The designs included in the catalogue have evolved over the course of the project.  An initial draft version was made available for consultation for 6 months, with a revised version reflecting feedback. The final version is now available.

Infill Performance Evaluation Framework 

This document describes the methods being developed by the IRP4 research team to evaluate the performance of infill development at site scale and at precinct scale. Performance refers to water sensitivity, quality urban spaces and thermal comfort. A mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods are used to generate a set performance indicators, which can be used to compare water sensitive designs against business-as-usual infill designs. The intent of the framework is to generate evidence to inform better infill designs. The final framework was refined after being applied to assess infill development case studies.

IRP4 Project Steering Committee

  1. Mellissa Bradley -  Water Sensitive SA (SA)
  2. Peter Newton - Swinburne University/CRC for Low Carbon Living (VIC)
  3. Phil Young - Brisbane City Council (QLD)
  4. Sadeq Zaman - Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW)
  5. Greg Ryan - LandCorp (WA)
  6. Chris Tancheff- South East Water (VIC)
  7. Lisa McLean - Flow Systems (NSW)
  8. Matt Stack -  Department of Planning (WA)
  9. Alejandra Rojas - Canterbury Bankstown (NSW)
  10. Andrew Allan - City of Manningham (VIC)

The Project Steering Committee members meet every 6 - 8 weeks.

The 2020 schedule has not been released yet.

A face to face meeting is being scheduled in Perth early 2020, please contact Tammie Harold for details at tamara.harold@uwa.edu.au

Last updated: 24th Oct 2017