- Brisbane’s urbanism: looking for an identity. Case study of Inala   click here to open paper content400 kb
by    Greenop, Kelly & Darchen, Sebastian | k.greenop1@uq.edu.au   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
The objective of this paper is to create avenues of reflection on how to
enhance the identity of urban spaces in Brisbane. We base our analysis on
the Inala case study.
Urban planning in Queensland is known as having been shaped by a pro-
development culture. This translates strongly in the design of Brisbane’s
public spaces which we argue still suffer from an ‘identity crisis’ despite
recent initiatives (e.g., Brisbane City Council’s City Centre Master Plan,
2012) that are clear attempts to foster public consultation on how to
generate a sense of place and to confer a more urban identity to the
Brisbane CBD.

The objective of this paper is to create avenues of reflection on how to
enhance the identity of urban spaces in Brisbane. We argue that this will
lead to a more authentic version of place, in line with place theorists.
Ultimately the paper concludes on directions to develop a Brisbane urbanism
in the context of an emerging city, inclusive of its past.

From a theoretical point of view, the paper is based on the concepts of
place and sense of place. Places are composed of three interrelated
components that give meanings to place: the physical setting, activity and
meaning. For example Relph (1976) referring to Lynch (1960) associates the
identity of a place with the ability to evoke human senses through
qualities that make it distinctive from other places. We also draw on
Augé’s (1995) work examining the plethora of ‘non-places’ that he argues
characterise many modern cities, and the antithesis of this, the creation
of authentic place.

We use the case study of the Brisbane suburb of Inala, located in the outer
south-west, and characterised by public housing and a proportionately large
population of migrant and Indigenous communities. We utilise ethnography to
examine residents’ attachment to and identification with place, as well as
the demographic, socio-economic and other quantitative aspects of place
that characterise Inala. We combine these factors with an examination of
the urban planning of the suburb and changes to this over time, to discuss
how an authentic, resilient and sustainable place requires a combination of
community, government and individuals to develop and maintain this

Based on this case, we present planning solutions that work in creating a
sense of place. These have often been developed incrementally over time,
and often involving initiatives driven from within the Inala community
itself, rather than through a broad strategic process, but we examine how
planning and other bureaucratic regimes have affected place-making in this

One of the strategies that we wish to put forward is the importance of
acknowledging the history of a place and the cultures of its people when
developing place-making strategies.

First we define place-making strategies as applied by planning
professionals and then we develop an alternative approach - based on the
case of Inala - to enhance the symbolic value of urban spaces.

As Brisbane and South East Queensland works to plan for its increasing
population, and the development of existing places to increase their
cohesiveness and social capital (e.g., Logan and developing areas such as
Springfield) issues of community identity, sustainability and inclusiveness
become increasingly important for planners and policy makers. We argue that
a community-centred, identity-focussed approach is an important
consideration in this developing debate.
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