Understanding Sense of community in Subiaco, Western Australia A Study of Human Behaviour and Movement Patterns

18 Sep 2019

Despite being an important physical environment capable of promoting social sustainability, sense of community and contributing to a better quality of life, residential streets and neighbourhoods have not attracted significant research interest until now. The integrated physical interconnected network of houses, front yards, walkways, alleyways and streets offers a high potential for community building through social interactions at a neighbourhood level. Understanding people?s movements, activities and perceptions about their streets can inform design practices and local planning policy in creating better communities. This study presents an investigation of a residential neighbourhood in Subiaco, Western Australia through the use of a mixed-method methodology based on observation and a perception survey. A total of 61 households were observed and interviewed during the spring and summer of 2016?2017 to develop useful typological models centred on activities, movements and resident perceptions. The findings endorse the importance of the residential street as a focus place for behaviour setting but argues that in the case of the Subiaco neighbourhood, which is part of a larger car-dependent metropolitain area, movement patterns? including vehicular, cycling, pedestrian modes and jaywalking, have no significant impact on social interactions. According to the perception survey, 82% of the Subiaco neighbourhood residents see activities across the street as generating the highest level of sense of community. The study expands both, the existing theory and approaches to urban planning, by emphasising the need for making neighbourhood streets the centre of liveability through better physical design which encourages and facilitates pedestrian movement.