Set-forward Street

Think Brick Awards Winner: Raise the Roof – Rethink Tiles Competition 2013

This scheme examines the way we use the typical suburban house/street interface. Large setback distances with expansive ornamental gardens are picturesque and spacious, but don’t help to activate the daytime street-life of dormant suburbs. With this in mind, we have taken a typical suburban street of detached houses and placed new elements within the setback and street verge to activate the underutilised suburban space.

We propose loosening the restrictive planning regulations that put distance between people. We want to change setbacks to Set-Forwards with the aim of making the front yard as animated and treasured as the backyard, squeeze and slow down the cars, speed up the bikes, let pedestrians rule, fill the streets with people doing communal things with shared resources. This proposal concerns increased activity and increased density.

The elements proposed include a flexible, front yard granny flat, with loose adaptive planning and multiple uses. The verge community buildings and gardens activate and support street life, prioritising pedestrians and bikes over cars.

Increases in density often mean losing green space. We value green space and the relief it provides the city and don't want to lose it. To ensure the green space we are using in the scheme is given back we propose a number of vertical planting solutions. Our new green roof tile is the key to this aspect.

Terracotta tile use is fundamental to the aims of this proposal. The ubiquitous ‘baked earth’ tile has glowed orange in crisp contrast to the blue suburban sky throughout the long Australian suburban experience. No other material choice could resonate with the memory, allowing new street elements and buildings to embed into their context. That they are a natural local material with minimal processing, low embodied energy, longevity and benign redundancy, makes them the perfect material.