The Next Australian City: the Suburban Evolution

Australia, much like America, is a nation of suburbs. The overwhelming majority of its people live, work and play in the suburbs of Australian cities. And while Australia is one of the most urbanised nations in the world, with two thirds of them living in their capital cities – and principally Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane at that – it is the suburbs of those cities that remain the preferred place to live.

The evolution of Australian cities and suburbs is a theme explored in this book by Suburban Futures, edited by Guy Gibson and Ross Elliott. It features 30 authors and includes international perspectives by Joel Kotkin, Wendell Cox, Peter Gordon, Alan Berger and June Williamson and Ellen Dunham-Jones. The Canadian experience is told by Antony Lorius and Laura Taylor. Every Australian state and territory is also covered, each by a different author – all experts in their field but all with different perspectives on the history and future of suburban development.

North American readers will find much that is familiar and much that is new in this book. The editors have sought to provide a fresh sense of legitimacy for the suburban story of Australia which – much like in North America – is frequently the subject of disdain and derision. “The suburbs are about boredom, and obviously some people like being bored and plain and predictable, I'm happy for them … even if their suburbs are destroying the world,” was an infamous comment by noted Australian urbanist Elizabeth Farrelly. That’s not a view shared by authors in this work, who nonetheless are unafraid to tackle valid concerns around connectivity, mobility, equity and amenity.

The Next Australian City is for this reason both enlightening about the Australian experience, and challenging in terms of how its cities and suburbs will be shaped by global and local forces into the future.

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