Place-making for people at Bowden

Boasting the largest concentration of Green Star residential buildings in the country, Renewal SA’s Bowden Development is taking shape. With a firm belief that “people make the place”, Andrew Bishop shares the lessons learnt about creating a community from the ground up.

Hundreds of residents have moved into Bowden, and more than 570 homes have been sold since the project was launched in 2012. 

Once complete, Bowden will be home to about 3,500 people in more than 2400 new homes, equating to about $740 million in private sector development.

“Bowden has achieved a real community vibe,” Renewal SA’s Manager of Sustainability Project Delivery, Andrew Bishop says.

At the heart of the community is Plant 4, the old Clipsal factory which was reimagined as a retail space that supports everything from eateries and bi-weekly markets to organic traders and indie stores.

A new commercial kitchen is serving up food education and cooking classes, and Fridays from 5 is Plant 4’s weekly wind-down session enticing locals and those from further afield.

“Plant 4 has been open for less than a year, but it is already attracting a considerable crowd of locals and people from all over Adelaide, as well as media attention,” Andrew says.

The regular markets and events schedule doesn’t just foster a great vibe for locals, but brings in new people “who we hope will one day become residents themselves,” he adds.

Plant 4 is not just about markets, it’s also a co-working facility. “They provide basic office facilities and encourage people to work there on their laptops. It’s activating the space throughout the day, and creating a really great atmosphere,” he says.

The saw-tooth roof and soaring ceilings in the old industrial facility has proved a perfect backdrop for a green upgrade, and Andrew says Plant 4 has “demonstrated how we can adapt old buildings to different uses in Adelaide. This was our first, but there will be a few others to come. We hope that by showcasing the types of high-quality results that can be achieved with adaptive reuse we will inspire others,” he adds.

Andrew says one of the lessons Plant 4 team has learnt is to carefully curate the spaces to meet the needs of both the community and the retailers. “Working closely with the retailers in the early stage has been really important as they try to find their feet.”

Other projects are also starting to unfold. 

The 5,000 sqm Bowden Park gives residents the best of urban sprawl. The park features a water play area, lush lawn irrigated with recycled water, BBQs, public art, shade trees and a sensory garden. 

Bowden’s information sales centre has recently relocated from an old heritage building to a new site in the heart of the retail hub further increasing traffic through the sales centre with interest and sales enquiries rising since the move. The old site office has been reimagined by the local café owner as a functions centre. “Bowden is fostering entrepreneurial activity,” Andrew adds. 
Green Star has had a “major impact” on the evolving community, Andrew says.

“Green Star has encouraged significant reductions in energy and water consumption in all buildings through improved design and connection to recycled water, among other things. 

“Green Star – Communities has triggered a number of new projects at Bowden. For example, we have a signage project underway, with directional, active living and historical interpretive signs explaining the stories of the community, sharing the benefits of active transport and providing tips for better health. This is fairly innovative, and was driven by the Green Star – Communities credit.”

Other projects driven by Green Star – Communities include users’ guides for home owners and the larger community, and a gardening project that has blossomed. The “very active” community garden committee is now forming sub-groups, growing members and hosting events and activities.

Renewal SA is working on projects to promote active transport initiatives, and a local bike supplier is moving into the area, in another old warehouse. “We will be offering free bikes to hire, and giving people the chance to try out electric bikes,” he says.

Bowden is home to two GoGet cars, a car sharing service that members can use for planned or spur-of-the-moment trips. Andrew says the service is gaining traction and is “helping us to reduce the car ownership within Bowden”.

One Bowden resident, Tony Perrin, says his own car “sits in my car parking space five days a week” because he can now be “out my front door and on a tram in 10 minutes. I can even walk to my job in the CBD, which is always a great way to start the day”. Hear more of what Tony thinks of living at Bowden over at the GBCA’s new blog, Green Star Living.

Meanwhile, an impressive 15 development sites have achieved a minimum 5 Star Green Star design rating, which has been driven by Renewal SA’s Green Star mandate.

“We are now finding that Green Star is well understood by the builders. And a lot of the builders who worked on Green Star projects at Bowden have moved elsewhere, but they have taken that extra knowledge about sustainability with them.

“The scale of Bowden has enabled us to really upskill the industry. More people understand the benefits of Green Star ratings, and we are helping South Australia meet the demands of a zero-carbon future,” Andrew concludes.