October 2015

A greater appetite for innovation? Some inspiration from Europe

28.10.2015 - Posted by Rob Catchlove
Imagine the Docklands in Melbourne, but actually worth going to. Well, the French have nailed it with the Confluence Smart City development in Lyon. Having recently spent three months in France I saw some amazing examples of innovation. However you define innovation, there is a distinctly different feel to the way Europeans innovate in city planning, economic development, water, energy, and transport systems.

The Confluence Smart City development illustrates this well. The Confluence development is basically an inner city redevelopment exercise in Lyon, the third largest city in France and almost 500km south west of Paris. Formally a port and dock, it is now a revitalised business, shopping and residential area. Fundamentally, the goal of this 150 hectare precinct is to attract business and residents to the city and showcase Lyon as a ‘smart city’. This has translated into leading edge developments, international architects, mini grid systems, reuse of industrial buildings for nightclubs, acclaimed museums.

Hikari development in the Confluence area

I toured one of the new buildings – Hikari (built by Bouygoyne, a French urban developer). Hikari is made up of three mixed use buildings with an integrated basement. It aims to be water neutral and have zero net energy use (i.e. generate more energy than is used on site). The best bit for me was the photovoltaics on the fa├žade (as part of that zero net energy use approach). Hikari has been a huge collaborative project (for example, Toshiba did the smart network), and apparently the apartments are selling like crazy. What was interesting was that when we toured the basement and saw the water treatment and tri-gen plant, even the maintenance workers fixing one of the valves spoke with passion and energy about how the building works. This sort leadership and innovation inspires everyone, not just the high profile architects and planners.

Another great example of innovation in France is the Bluely car share scheme. Bluely started in Lyon in 2013. It involves small four seater electric cars that charge at stations around the city. Paris was first with this type of scheme. ‘Autolib’ and Bollere Group then started the Lyon and Bordeaux car share schemes, and are soon to start something similar in London. Within two years of launching in Lyon there are 130 cars and 49 stations. This scheme is all about a new model of car use and ownership. Even in Australia the majority of our car trips are short. So this system gives people the opportunity to use a car for one or two hours (or longer), pick and drop off the car from different places, and do away with parking problems (you book your park in advance). What’s more, the Bluely cars run on green energy (sourced externally from the cars), and can be used to charge a member’s own electric cars, if they have one. I liked this scheme as it was great to see a new business model working so well.

A BlueLy car parked at a charging station

We do a lot of innovative things in Australia, but I can’t help but think that Europeans are inherently better at trying new things and making them happen. Is it that they have a greater appetite for innovation and acceptance of risk? What’s holding us back?

Tallebudgera Creek restoration

23.10.2015 - Posted by David Barratt
Yesterday we went to a "launch" of some of our stream restoration work on Tallebudgera Creek (led by Misko) for Gold Coast City Council. The council seemed genuinely pleased with the works that help protect a local park and road, while at the same time improving the riparian habitat of this reach of stream. Misko is shown below explaining the issues and solutions to a group of council staff, local residents and other stakeholders.


We'll be interested to follow the trajectory of the system into the future.

What does daylighting a creek look like in France?

16.10.2015 - Posted by Rob Catchlove
I spent two months in Lyon (France) and was able to catch up with some water planners and project designers from the city (Grand Lyon). They had recently completed an urban creek daylighting project – i.e. the removal of a stormwater pipe and restoration of a ‘natural’ channel in Parc du Vallon.

Looking upstream at Parc du Vallon

There were three drivers for this project: improve flood mitigation, provide a better space for locals to engage with nature and play, and improve the ecology of the area.

The finished product was quite impressive and it certainly delivered on the three objectives – especially the cool playground that my kids enjoyed playing on. As we wandered around I noticed:
  • The new channel was made of rock groynes – removing any possibility for the creek to meander – apparently the architect liked the look of them
  • I couldn’t see any spill ways for the three detentions basins - but that did allow for some nice paths to cross the park
  • I couldn’t see any water quality treatment – but with a combined system there is little incentive to remove excess nutrients.
We have worked on a few concepts for removing old stormwater pipes and recreating natural channels in Australia (Stony Creek in west of Melbourne), but I’m yet to hear of a good daylighting project that has been built in Australia. The benefits of such a project in Australia would be the improved waterway condition and values, the improved amenity, and the opportunity to integrate some stormwater harvesting / flood retention into the project.

Playing in the park downstream of the daylighted channel

Recovery of Dwarf Galaxias project to be showcased at ASFB 2015 conference this week

11.10.2015 - Posted by Amanda Shipp
The Australian Society for Fish Biology annual conference (http://asfbconf.asnevents.com.au/) is on this week, and the theme is “Understanding, sustaining and restoring fish populations”. One of our clients, Rhys Coleman from Melbourne Water, is presenting on ‘Recovery Of Threatened Dwarf Galaxias in the Dandenong Valley, Melbourne’ (see the program here).

This is an exciting project that Alluvium has had the privilege to be involved with.

To find out more about the project, visit our blog from May this year (The 'Enhancing our Dandenong Creek' program and Dwarf Galaxias).

New Board Appointments

8.10.2015 - Posted by Kane Travis
After a very long and quite exhaustive process, we are very pleased to announce the appointment of two non-executive directors to the Alluvium Board.

Dr Neil Byron and Professor Barry Hart have joined the Alluvium Board to increase governance oversight, build stronger relationships with universities and key government agencies, and increase the science, engineering and economic rigour of the products we deliver. Both Neil and Barry will also play an active role in mentoring staff.

It was quite a journey for us and with over 140 applicants, all which had extraordinary skills, it was a very difficult shortlisting process. Ultimately our approach was driven strongly by two factors. Firstly our strategic aims which includes growth both geographically and technically. Secondly our leadership and culture that will become a focus for the business in the future.

We would like to thank applicants for making the time to apply and talk with us and look forward working with Barry and Neil.

Dr Neil Byron

Professor Barry Hart