Thursday, May 27, 2010

Doncaster train line must be commercial!

Whilst new land needs to be developed in the west and services provided to those areas, it's also pragmatic for governments to develop existing pockets of land in the "middle suburbs" a reasonable distance away from the city. Suburbs like Doncaster, Knox, and Rowville.

Previous government estimates have priced a train line to Doncaster at $1billion. Pocket change if you ask me, but to make the development of these lines more financially attactive, the stations themselves need to follow the new metro trains paradigm of commericalization. Train stations can no longer be simply entry points to the public transportation system. They need a mix of community services, office space and retail.

Secondly and importantly new train lines should not create extra bottlenecks inside the city loop. New lines should push forward goals of decentralization. The Doncaster line for example should extend to Ringwood (a transport hub in the Melbourne 2030 plan).

Concepts like transfer hubs also need to be promoted. People should no longer expect a one way ride into the city. Stations outside of the loop, such as Richmond (which by the way needs a major revamp) should act as transport transfer hubs. The Doncaster line feeding through Doncaster - Richmond - Ringwood - Doncaster - creating an outer loop and completely bypassing Flinders St and the City Loop.

These are imporatant pragmatic steps forward in making the Doncaster line a reality. No longer should the Doncaster line be consider an "If" but a "when".

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Housing Commissions Lessons to be learnt

The Age has reported the housing commissions in Fitzroy, Prahran and Richmond will be reworked to better integrate them with their surroundings. Lessons from the 60's need to be learnt, lest we repeat the same mistakes from the past. A few thoughts:

  1. The cheapest solution is not always the best.
  2. Architects and engineers should offer work probono, or at least at a discount. Governments can chip by offerring incentives.
  3. At least one member from each discipline of the design team should visit the existing housing commissions. Interviews should be done with existing tenants to find out problems first hand, from which responses to each should be made, and reasons given for not fixing identified problems.
  4. Holistic design integrating support services on site need to be considered. (A police station, centrelink, mental health services on site)
  5. Government offices need to meet a 5 star greenstar rating, what minimum star rating should housing commissions meet?
  6. New metrics need to be created. How do we design "hope"? What makes sites inspiring?
  7. What minimum tools do we need to provide and design into the site that will help people get out. Is ownership or the lack of it, something that needs be conveyed?
  8. How do we utilize modular prefabricated housing to reduce costs, and increase the speed these developments are constructed?
  9. A lifecycle costing needs to be provided as well as a cost per unit at the beggining of the design phase. Outcomes at the end of a familiy's/person's stay need to be factored into the costs somehow.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Advertising via wifi

Google's sniffing of wifi networks has got me thinking, wifi network names are notoriously boring, and could be used for advertising. Wifi hotspots are everywhere, and with the increase of smart phone usage, logging onto safari on your iphone will automatically detect a wifi network. When most network names are preprogrammed to the router brand, this is a missed advertising opportunity.

Changing wifi network names everyday is not practical, but once monthly is manageable and long enough for a campaign. Pertinent locations could be permanant advertising spots.

Businesses are not likely to change their network names but could easily set up "dumby" routers, broadcasting advertising this way.

Now if there was a way that advertisers could download avertising slogans onto your routers network name, this could lead to a new revolution.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cigarrette packet designs

So Rudd has announced that cigarrette packet designs will now be plain, to stop so called advertising to the younger generation. Although altrusic in intent, I believe the design is unlikely to significantly stop kids smoking, rather it will shift kids to certain brands of cigarettes which are the popular ones of the time.

An interesting social analogy can now be drawn. When people in society are largely similar (say in a cold war communist society), what are are the slight differences which give people an advantage. In many cultures, some believe a slight difference in looks, height and physical appearance is enough to give them advantage, and no doubt cigarrette companies will play the differentiator game.

Package design can be improved. We can design packaging so it is incovenient to carry in the pocket, uncomfortable even. Oversized or odd sized packaging will act as a better deterrent to smoking in several ways.
  1. Makes packets harder to conceal.
  2. Makes packets inconvenient to carry in pockets, leading to smokers "accidently" leaving them at home or misplacing them.
Packets can also be "enhanced" to make smokers go through more steps to get to the cigarette in a packet. Fliptop packets should be modified, increasing the delay and hopefully giving smokers a chance to think more about their habit.