James Legge’s lecture at the State Library of Queensland provided a glimpse into the Six Degrees team’s design approach, in particular their focus on developing healthy sub and greater communities within the urban environment. Key to this is human interaction, and the provision of space that encourages it.
Starting with their early portfolio of city pubs, they focused how people respond to a space, and how they grouped and interacted in the environment provided. Of equal importance was the activation of street, and how the social space would spill out onto the public realm and contribute to it. Their experience would be applied in the medium and high density housing projects of their later portfolio. Here too great regard is shown for the space that unites the sub-community and encourages interaction, and the interaction between the development and the street, thereby contributing to the immediate urban environment.
It is refreshing to see how communal space, which is usually viewed as a luxury by developers, is applied as a valuable entity, and interesting to see how it was applied to still offer an economically viable outcome.
It is clear that the perception of what a high and medium density dwelling should be, which is primarily driven by property marketing and development yield, will have to change in order to allow sustainable and affordable models to develop.
James and his team’s work reminds architects of their responsibility as guardians of the urban fabric, and as articulated in his Jane Jacobs quotes, a need for consciousness of what makes a healthy sub and greater community. Their work has now culminated in the ultimate expression of responsible high density community development, a Nightingale development.