New paper outlines a re-think to reinvent life in the suburbs

Jennifer Shand Jennifer Shand Australasia Press Office,Sydney
18 June 2020

Arup has released an ideas paper, Towards Superbia: a renewed focus on our suburbs which investigates our local areas and whether they will work well enough for a new-look future.

The paper looks at four types of suburbs and how recent events have challenged how we live in them. Do they really work? How can they adapt to meet out changing needs?

There are five detailed recommendations for ‘superbia’ – with both big ideas and small interventions.

The authors are Dr Tim Williams (Australasia Cities Lead), Penny Hall (Australasia Economics and Planning Lead) and Arthur Smart (Urban Design Lead NSW & ACT).

A renewed focus on suburbs has been one of the key, if unexpected, consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The discovery, forced on many of us by home working, is revealing the virtues but also the challenges of our local suburbs. ”

Tim Williams Strategic Adviser
Sketch from Towards Superbia paper Sketch from Towards Superbia paper

“The words neighbourhood and community have even greater resonance and reality than before, prompting a long overdue re-thinking of their potential,” said Tim.

“We’ve rediscovered the suburbs and found new meaning in walking and cycling, in green spaces, our neighbours and the local coffee spot. At the same time, many won’t have been able to access such amenity because in their suburbs they can’t walk to shops or enjoy public green space."

The paper suggests reimagining places such as high streets, car parks and shopping centres as well as high density and dormitory residential areas. It looks at ways to improve walkability, create new green spaces and tree canopy, provide public transport access and add new capacity for local centres to support retail and other jobs.

This rediscovery of our suburbs is an opportunity not to look back, but forward to a new future for an old idea whose day has come again. ”

Tim Williams Strategic Adviser

“Reinventing our suburbs to become more sustainable, healthy and inclusive ‘superbia’ will need contributions from individuals, communities and the public and private sectors,” said Tim.

“It will need strategic leadership and strong local presence to drive practical implementation and shape our recovery. Much can be done at relatively low cost and quickly while more extensive plans are formed and funded.”

Download the paper here.