Karratha Vernacular Design Principles
Western Australia | Regional
Author: Dr Lucy Gunn.
By ‘destinations’ we mean a variety of different land uses (such as shops, services and businesses) within the one location – whether that is a project area, precinct, locality, site or building – which people will make a special trip to visit. It is common for destinations to be co-located in town or neighbourhood centres.
‘Town centre’ is the term historically used for the commercial or geographical centre or core area of a town or neighbourhood. A town centre acts as a community focal point or hub, with a clustering and concentration of destinations and mixed land uses that attract people to a variety of activities, and is usually served by public transport.
Town or neighbourhood centres should include a diverse mix of retail, commercial, health, education, entertainment, cultural and recreational destinations, and community facilities. This mix is essential for creating hubs of destinations of sufficient diversity to serve as useful, walkable nodes or a regular destination for the majority of the population. A hub should include destinations or land uses that generate activity outside normal business hours and at different times of day and night (such as hospitality and entertainment, community facilities, gymnasiums).
This generates additional evening and weekend activity, and also takes advantage of shared facilities such as car parking and public transport – all important for creating vibrant, inviting and safe town and neighbourhood centres. Higher-density housing in and around the centre is also important, to support the destinations, facilities and high-frequency public transport.
Local centres also play an important role by giving communities walkable access to services and facilities. These local centres help meet people’s main daily to weekly household shopping and community needs within their walkable catchments. Local centres will typically include a corner store or deli and newsagent, but are limited in their range of shops and services.
The term ‘mixed-use development’ refers to buildings that contain a mix of uses – such as commercial, retail or other non-residential uses – maintaining an active commercial and business environment at pedestrian (street) level, often with residential dwellings on the upper levels in a multiple-dwelling configuration. [1, 2]
The term ‘land use’ describes land that has been zoned for specific purposes in a town planning scheme. These purposes can include residential, retail, commercial, civic, open space, or mixed use. ‘Destinations’ are the specific types of businesses present (such as a supermarket, hotel, cinema or bank).
The term ‘land-use mix’ is often used in the public health literature to describe the diversity (mix) of different land uses or destinations in a given area (such as within a neighbourhood).  Measures of ‘land-use mix’ are often computed by using geographic information systems (GIS) and include simple counts of different destination types or land uses, as well by using more sophisticated methods – such as entropy formulas that measure the variety and distribution of land uses over a given area. [3, 4]