Designing Unique Cities

Creating a Sense of Place

In urban design, the term "sense of place" is used to describe a general feeling the urban landscape conveys on people living there or visiting.

In other words, it's what truly makes a city/neighbourhood unique.

Take Paris for example: the large boulevards, the Haussmanian buildings, the French bistrots and restaurants all give Paris a unique sense of place. Add an odd Eiffel Tower and then you get something truly unique.

The New World countries have had a more difficult time to create such unique feelings. A notable exception is New York City with its skyscrapers. What few people know is that it has been an amazing cooperation between European and Indigenous cultures.

Yes, American Indians have been a vital part in constructing these skyscrapers, because of their lesser fear of heights.

So if our aim is to build cities with a unique sense of place, then we'll have to use the local indigenous culture, which is the only "thing" that differentiates Adelaide from Austin from Auckland.


Australian Sense of Place


Aboriginal Art

Australia is blessed with having amazing Aboriginal artists and the urban planners of the future, if they wish to make Australian cities unique, will need to find ways to include Aboriginal art in the built environment.


Aboriginal Architecture

Yes, there is such a thing, although it is not widespread yet. Take a look at the Brambuk Cultural Centre for example (see photo - copyright Gariwerd Enterprises).


Aboriginal Languages

At the time of European first colonisation of Australia, over 300 Aboriginal languages were spoken in Australia. Few are still alive, but there is now a language revival movement going on that will culturally enrich this continent.

In more and more places throughout Australia, you can now see words and sentences written on (mostly public) buildings. We think this is just the beginning of a trend, and believe that Aboriginal languages will take up a more prominent role in Australian culture in the future.