The Garden City layout of Sunshine is suited to the intensification of sustainable programs including urban agriculture, shared water and energy harvesting systems, increased pedestrian and bike access through the neighbourhood and shared public spaces for increased social cohesion.
The housing stock is in generally good condition and has the capacity to be retrofitted for thermal efficiency. There are opportunities to increase housing density around the train station and shopping centres, with the local supermarket showing interest in having apartments and offices built up above its shops. Sunshine has excellent rail-links to Melbourne, Bendigo, Ballarat, and beyond. This fairly flat suburb has its own watercourse, Stony Creek, and many established trees and parks, as well as a unique and endangered orchid – the Sunshine Orchid. The community includes established Maltese and Vietnamese groups, as well as a diverse mix of more recently arrived cultural groups. The population is spread across the age groups with three to four generations visible in the community. As well as being a manufacturing hub, Sunshine was a major wheat processing centre, and much of the infrastructure – mills and silos – remains standing. Additionally, more recently developed industrial parks, with varying degrees of occupancy, are dotted around the suburb.
The Garden City
The city of Sunshine was designed according to the principles of Ebenezer Howard’s ‘Garden City’. Originally Braybrook Junction, an important railway junction of the Ballarat and Bendigo railway lines, the suburb changed its name by residential consent after the Sunshine Harvester factory moved there in 1906. Hugh Victor Mackay, the industrialist who owned the factory, designed the new suburb along the Garden City principles in order to provide a healthy and comfortable suburb for his factory workers and their families. The suburban layout combined back yards adequate for a vegetable patch, fruit trees and chickens, with regularly placed public parks for social recreation. The layout remains intact today, but expansion of the transport infrastructure over the years has fractured much of the social space in the suburb. Although the harvester factory closed in 1989, the suburb was well-established by then and now has a hospital, a university campus and several shopping centres.
Sunshine is on the junction of 5 railway lines and lies within Zone 1 on the metropolitan rail system. Per capita, Sunshine has the highest number of daily car trips in Greater Melbourne, but the lowest car ownership. With the development of the Regional Rail Link, Sunshine is well positioned to become a hub city between Melbourne and regional Victoria as well as the northern states. Sunshine has high unemployment and a reputation for violence and drug-related crime. While the council has been declared bankrupt twice in the last three decades and is now under administration, the council officers work hard to strategically manage Sunshine’s opportunities. With an active and engaged Residents’ Association (Sun RRA), local traders’ association (Sunshine Business Association), a well-regarded Youth Services Centre (VISYCares Hub) and local sustainability groups active in the area, Sunshine is a suburb well placed to be “Re-Visioned” through the VEIL studio lens.
Vision: Sunshine 2.0 – Station Precinct
To develop low-carbon resilient communities from within the existing fabric of (sub)urban life it is important to have two things: visions of desirable future living scenarios – and visible interventions, today, that can re-orient the path of future development.
Duckbuild Thesis Studio
Sunshine is blessed with a well-placed railway station but is very poorly served by the design and operation of the station and the connective transport network.
Vision: Sunshine 2032
To address the challenge of climate change we must develop low-carbon resilient communities from within the existing fabric of (sub)urban life.
Designing the Sustainable Landscape
The second Master of Landscape Architecture studio to focus on Sunshine, this studio again engages with Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) principles as applied to the open spaces of Sunshine Principle Activity Centre (SPAC), Brimbank City Council (BCC). The studio ran loosely in partnership with VEIL.
Real sites, real research, real communities, real concerns, real constraints, real approach, real results.
Urban sprawl is threatening Australian rural and natural open spaces/landscapes. How can the need to grow the economy and provide affordable housing be balanced with the need to conserve and resuscitate rural and natural open spaces?