Saturday, August 8, 2015
Christie Walk: An Urban Villlage in the Heart of Adelaide
You don’t often find an ecologically sustainable cohousing development within a stone’s throw from the centre of one of Australia’s major cities. Christie Walk is such an example and we are keen to visit and learn a little more about it. We have detoured to Adelaide to catch up with work and have taken the opportunity to meet up with a few of our local contacts who have been involved with this project.
Sue, a board member of Urban Ecology Australia, whose vision resulted in this innovative project, gives us a personal tour. Designed by “architect, writer and urban evolutionary” Dr. Paul Downton, the project provides housing for 27 households on 2,000 sq. m (half an acre). Christie Walk is certainly a high-density development with a difference.
A beautiful mural greets visitors on what would otherwise have been a long blank wall. The mural tells a story about the development and some of the ideas of the residents and those who initiated it. There is limited parking for residents but some of the people who live here don’t own a car because it is so close to the city centre and Central Markets. Most of the waste is composted in the numerous bins or recycled so garbage bins for waste going to landfill are minimized.
The outside areas are a fabulous mix of paved pathways and edible landscape. Flowering plants, a vegie garden, fruit trees and a beehive not only provide food but create a microclimate to contend with the dry Adelaide summer. Straw bale and Hebel block construction provide a passive solar design for the dwellings keeping the indoor temperature stable all year round. A green roof four storeys up offers a great outdoor space with views of the City.
The outdoor seating is located at the intersection of pathways to deliberately encourage community interaction. This is a development that adopts many ideas from Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language, often regarded as a bible by many who are re-imagining the city. Christie’s Walk is a great example of community activism and the commitment of individual Australians prepared to work together to achieve a great space to live that creates social capital and has a positive impact on the environment!
There is a mix of accommodation from town houses to apartments of varying sizes and like all co-housing developments provides as many shared spaces and assets as possible. Shared community spaces that can be booked for personal use, informal arrangements for the sharing of cars, solar panels for generating electricity and underground storage for rainwater. Recycled and non-toxic material has been used in the construction of these houses. Sue tells us that all the outdoor spaces have been designed and created by the residents and they maintain it during their monthly working bees.
Over a few hours we develop a good relationship with Sue and agree to come back in the summer and offer a presentation to the Urban Ecology network.