The Future of the Canberra Suburb

An Exploration of Canberra’s Inner Suburbia and the Possibilities for its Densification

This research investigates the Tocumwal Housing sites of O’Connor, Canberra, to explore the possibilities for accommodating Canberra’s growing population within its existing inner suburbs in a manner that retains their unique character underlying principles.

Canberra’s population is projected to continue to grow considerably over the next 40 years. The historic method of accommodating this population growth through greenfield suburban development has left much to be desired and has resulted in the low-density sprawling city that we see today.

This report investigates the possibility of doubling the number of dwellings in our inner suburbs to not only accommodate Canberra’s growing population, but to improve the quality and liveability of these suburbs for existing residents.

This question is explored through an analysis of the effects of increased density, and an exploration of elements that underpin Canberra’s suburban quality. These elements are then utilised to examine four higher density suburban housing typologies, which, when applied to the Tocumwal Housing sites of O’Connor, reveal how Canberra’s suburbs might develop to accommodate double their current density, and what that future might look like.


The Alastair Swayn Internship 2021: The Alastair Swayn Internship Program is a joint initiative between the Alastair Swayn Foundation, the ACT Government and the University of Canberra

The Alastair Swayn Foundation respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Custodians on the land of which we work, the Ngunnawal people of the ACT. We recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay respect to Elders past, present, and emerging.

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