City living under the microscope


CSIRO_LogoA new CSIRO research initiative has launched will lead the way for the transformation of liveable urban spaces and sustainable cities of the future.

In partnership with property developers Celestino, CSIRO has established its first operational Urban Living Lab at the Sydney Science Park in western Sydney – a place where researchers, industry, government and communities can get together and create, design and test innovative urban development concepts, moving beyond the lab into the real world.

Within the Urban Living Lab’s test environment, researchers will examine the connections between issues such as urban greening, energy efficiency, demands for water, community well-being and health and the impacts of technological advancements, all within a real urban environment.

The research will be critical for developing and renewing our cities and urban spaces to be sustainable in the face of pressures such as population changes and climate change.

Examples of the research topics already under consideration include:

  • The impact of increased urban greening on local temperatures and ecology, changes in energy and water demand and consumption, and the influence on community well-being and health;
  • Smart water systems that can efficiently provide different classes of water for different uses on demand;
  • The influence of digital disruptions and information technology advances on urban structure, industry development and community connectivity.

Assistant Minister for Science Craig Laundy said the new initiative was set to deliver significant urban, environmental and innovative outcomes for the region and beyond.

“The Urban Living Lab initiative offers a new way for researchers, industry, community and government to co-innovate and provide a place to address a range of challenges facing the urban sector,” Minister Laundy said.

“It’s great to see CSIRO engaging in this public-private collaboration which will not only tackle important issues for our cities, but also provide a boost to the local economy with jobs and opportunities for STEM students.”

CSIRO Land and Water Acting Director Paul Bertsch said collaborative science initiatives like the Urban Living Lab would enable our cities to move towards a more sustainable future.

“By working with government and industry, our research will enable Australia’s cities to become more economically, environmentally and socially resilient,” he said.

Celestino CEO John Vassallo Celestino said he wasthrilled to be partnering with CSIRO on the project.

“We could see people creating new ways to harness solar energy in the workplace and developing novel ideas to store heat and keep homes cool,” Mr Celestino said.

“New sustainable transport solutions will also be encouraged as well as inventions that conserve water and energy and drive down utility bills. The possibilities are endless.

“Once developed, all of these technologies will be tested on the homes, businesses, shops, roads and parks of Sydney Science Park.

“Just like you test new medical technologies in a lab, you need to test new urban-living technologies in a real urban environment. Sydney Science Park is the perfect testing ground for these inventions of tomorrow.”

Mr Vassallo said the Urban Living Lab would connect inventors to mentors, scientific expertise and importantly, venture capital.

“We don’t just want inventions, we want new prototypes commercialized and rolled out to the market,” he said.

Mayor of Penrith John Thain welcomed the new development.
“The creation of the CSIRO Urban Living Lab embodies the innovative and progressive direction Celestino have set for the Sydney Science Park – located within the Penrith LGA,” Mr Thain said.

“The partnership is a very welcome announcement. The Urban Living Lab fits with Council’s vision to not just build Penrith as a city of the future, but to reap benefits for communities well beyond our own boundaries.”