Towards a Tropical Urbanism for Cairns, Australia
Keywords:Tropical Urbanism, Urban Design, Urban Planning, New Urbanism, Regionalism, Critical Regionalism, Cairns
This paper engages with debates about tropical cities and climate responsive design to consider the emergence of two local government master plans and one planning scheme provision explicitly addressing the tropical climate in Cairns, Australia. The undergirding concept of these initiatives is a terminology of Tropical Urbanism, a simultaneously environmental and social/cultural term that captures issues such as climate, lifestyle and identity in the constitution of the urban fabric. Through a detailed reading of the documents, combined with interviews with local architects and planners, this paper positions Tropical Urbanism as an environmentally aware version of New Urbanism and as a distinctive language of urban design emerging in the regional context of tropical Australia. Place-based initiatives such as these are important to improving the design outcomes and sustainability of regional cities, and we suggest Tropical Urbanism could be further reinforced by the social/cultural and political nuances of a more progressive Critical Regionalist approach.
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