Supervisors: Professor Martin Bryant, James Melsom
Urbanisation throughout the world has led to complex ecological issues as developments traditionally prioritise human and economic growth, over ecosystem preservation and maintenance. Such issues, including habitat fragmentation and local species extinction, have more recently sought to be addressed through metropolitan green networks that establish dense corridors of ‘urban greening’ and active transportation connectivity, though as with the Sydney Green Grid, the full benefits of urban ecological integration are restricted through top-down implementation strategies that limit the scope to public domain road corridors, existing bushlands and parklands only, and high-level generalised mappings that cause uneven uptake throughout local governments in Sydney due to the low degree of specificity and reliance on further interpretation.
Responding to this lack of finer-grain understandings and site specific complexities, whilst maintaining feasibility across the metropolitan scale, this research thesis seeks to explore the possibilities of using new spatial technologies to establish an evidence-based urban ecological design platform, introduced as the ‘Green Mesh’, that sits as a ‘bottom-up’ layer to compliment the current framework of the Sydney Green Grid. Acting perpendicular to the Green Grid, the Green Mesh will enable individuals and communities to establish their own small-scale green infrastructure implementations within their own properties and backyards, empowered by this new source of data, to connect smaller, valuable instances of fragmented vegetation communities back into broader green network.
The methodologies uses highly-detailed drone-derived point cloud spatial data as a foundation for running complex urban micro-climate simulations within three specific focus sites. Furthermore, this is combined with on-site observations into the specific human interactions and narratives of place, together, delivering a number of design principles across the micro-climate, social dimension, and finally, ecological interactions, through an understanding of unplanned ecologies, and the autonomous vegetation growth that mutually-beneficial animal, insect and plant interactions may provide through seed dispersal and pollination.
These resulting design principles then inform responsive urban-ecological design outcomes that seek to combat the negative consequences of traditional urban development, that furthermore, aim to deliver decentralised solutions to food and water supplies to facilitate continued population growth and urban development into the future. This level of responsiveness and ecological integration seeks to realise a vision for ‘biomorphic’ cities within existing built form, with urbanisation acting to assist in the regeneration of native ecosystems in parallel with continued urban growth in the future.