Sustainable Cities™

Adelaide: A sustainable neighbourhood created by local residents

Christie Walk is a sustainable neighbourhood in central Adelaide, South Australia. The district was created in the cooperative spirit by architect Paul Downton together with the residents. Sustainability is key to both the environment and the people who live there. Construction of the homes depended on voluntary labour and a desire on the part of residents to live in the city in an environment-friendly way.

Køkkenhave og kompost i Christie Walk. Foto venligst udlånt af Urban Ecology Australia.

Adelaide, Australia's fifth largest and most densely populated city, enjoys a Mediterranean climate with a mild, wet winter and a very dry, hot summer. The city only has a few playgrounds and green areas where children and adults can meet, play and enjoy each other's company. In south-western Adelaide, however, one finds a small green oasis - the new residential neighbourhood Christie Walk. Here, the residents live in small housing units in close proximity to each other. The streets are green with trees, bushes and flowers growing in front, behind and between the houses. There is a playground, a communal kitchen garden, a common room and a number of attractive outdoo5 areas where residents can meet and enjoy each other's company. The residents of Christie Walk live sustainable urban lifestyles in a friendly environment where water-saving, sustainable energy and neighbourliness are high on the list of priorities.

Christie Walk's 27 homes occupy a 2000 m² T-shaped area. It is located in the middle of the existing city and within walking distance of Adelaide's 140 year-old central food market. Christie Walk is a manifestation of a vision of neighbourliness and security. This has been achieved partly by means of pedestrian-friendly surroundings with paving, green areas and a playground and partly through the co-operation between local inhabitants, who have helped to build the homes on a voluntary basis. Both local and future residents were involved in the process from planning and design to construction of the houses.

Mural detail, courtsey of Urban Ecology Australia.

All houses in Christie Walk have been built according to the highest eco-standards from good recycled and environment-friendly materials. The homes are built mainly of concrete or straw bales; materials with a high passive heat storage capacity. Thus, the homes make the best use of the hot Australian sun, the heat being stored in the concrete and straw during the day and gradually released again during night when the temperature drops. This renders heating superfluous as well as reduces carbon emissions. Air conditioning is also superfluous in Christie Walk due to the warm air being cooled by vegetation on the street and in the gardens. Houses have natural ventilation brought about by carefully positioning the windows in the facades. One three-storey property even has a roof garden which insulates the top flat against the heat and all balconies are planted with vines that provide a screen against the sun and allows the sun in when the leaves fall off. Green plants are practical as shade and installation but they also play an aesthetic role, creating a natmosphere around the buildings.

In connection with the project, the NGO Urban Ecology Australia formed the non-profit association Wirranendi Housing Cooperative. The housing cooperative owned the site, while voluntary local people and future inhabitants built the houses. When the homes had been completed, the Wirranendi Housing Cooperative was able to sell them to the residents. The Association has created an area policy with common interests and collective effort. All the outdoor areas are under common ownership and everyone shares responsibility for maintenance.

The price of the houses and shared facilities ranges from $115,000-$306,000, which is the equivalent of other houses in central Adelaide. Financing for the project took the form of personal investments, loans and funding made available by the Community Aid Abroad Ethical Investment Trust and Bendigo Community Bank as well as local government subsidies to the sewage system. While most houses in Australia have an expected life span of 25 years, houses in Christie Walk have been built to last at least 100 years.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014