The Australian capitals where WFH employees are digging in
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The Australian capitals where WFH employees are digging in

A leading industry body warns that some CBDs need support if they are going to thrive economically

Fri, Aug 4, 2023 5:04pmGrey Clock 2 min

If you’re looking for office space in Brisbane anytime soon, you might want to get a move on.

That’s according to the last data from the Property Council Australia which has just released its biannual Office Market Report.

The report shows the Sunshine State capital has recorded a fall in vacancy rates over the past six months from 12.9 percent to 11.6 percent. There is even less available office space available in the nation’s capital, with vacancy rates in Canberra falling from 8.9 percent to 8.2 percent. Perth and Adelaide also reported modest falls in office vacancies as more businesses entice workers back to their desks.

However, it’s a different story in the country’s two largest capitals, with Sydney and Melbourne data revealing vacancy rates are on the rise.

Property Council Chief Executive Mike Zorbas said Sydney and Melbourne face some challenges.

“Demand remains strong in four of the six capital cities captured in our detailed survey, but it has subsided across the big two, Sydney and Melbourne,” Mr Zorbas said.

“Sydney and Melbourne experienced slight vacancy rate increases with over 200,000 sqm of new office space planned in the next three years. However, pre-commitment rates are lower than Brisbane, with only 42 per cent in Sydney and 17.4 per cent in Melbourne already secured by tenants,” Mr Zorbas said.

Businesses have been trying in recent months to entice more workers back to the office in a post COVID environment offering everything from fully stocked fridges to board games to make workplaces feel more welcoming.

Mr Zorbas said CBDs were key economic centres and governments around the country need to support them to ensure they remain vibrant.

“Thriving CBDs are an essential part of our national economic prosperity and support the viability of large-scale public transport systems and investments in public amenities,” Mr Zorbas said.

“We need parliaments and public and private sector leaders to recognise and champion the superior relationships, organisational, economic and societal outcomes that come from face-to-face teamwork in cities and towns across our nation each and every week.”


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Wild cities and concrete corridors: How AI is reimagining the landscape

A new AI-driven account by leading landscape architect Jon Hazelwood pushes the boundaries on the role of ‘complex nature’ in the future of our cities

By Robyn Willis
Wed, Dec 6, 2023 2 min

Drifts of ground cover plants and wildflowers along the steps of the Sydney Opera House, traffic obscured by meadow-like planting and kangaroos pausing on city streets.

This is the way our cities could be, as imagined by landscape architect Jon Hazelwood, principal at multi-disciplinary architectural firm Hassell. He has been exploring the possibilities of rewilding urban spaces using AI for his Instagram account, Naturopolis_ai with visually arresting outcomes.

“It took me a few weeks to get interesting results,” he said. “I really like the ephemeral nature of the images — you will never see it again and none of those plants are real. 

“The AI engine makes an approximation of a grevillea.”

Hazelwood chose some of the most iconic locations in Australia, including the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as international cities such as Paris and London, to demonstrate the impact of untamed green spaces on streetscapes, plazas and public space.

He said he hopes to provoke a conversation about the artificial separation between our cities and the broader environment, exploring ways to break down the barriers and promote biodiversity.

“A lot of the planning (for public spaces) is very limited,” Hazelwood said. “There are 110,000 species of plants in Australia and we probably use about 12 in our (public) planting schemes. 

“Often it’s for practical reasons because they’re tough and drought tolerant — but it’s not the whole story.”

Hazelwood pointed to the work of UK landscape architect Prof Nigel Dunnett, who has championed wild garden design in urban spaces. He has drawn interest in recent years for his work transforming the brutalist apartment block at the Barbican in London into a meadow-like environment with diverse plantings of grasses and perennials.

Hazelwood said it is this kind of ‘complex nature’ that is required for cities to thrive into the future, but it can be hard to convince planners and developers of the benefits.

“We have been doing a lot of work on how we get complex nature because complexity of species drives biodiversity,” he said. 

“But when we try to propose the space the questions are: how are we going to maintain it? Where is the lawn?

“A lot of our work is demonstrating you can get those things and still provide a complex environment.” 

At the moment, Hassell together with the University of Melbourne is trialling options at the Hills Showground Metro Station in Sydney, where the remaining ground level planting has been replaced with more than 100 different species of plants and flowers to encourage diversity without the need for regular maintenance. But more needs to be done, Hazelwood said.

“It needs bottom-up change,” he said. ““There is work being done at government level around nature positive cities, but equally there needs to be changes in the range of plants that nurseries grow, and in the way our city landscapes are maintained and managed.”

And there’s no AI option for that. 


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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