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Building beauty in Australian towns and cities, locally.

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About us

Street Level Australia is an association of local groups working to make Australian places more beautiful and conducive to human flourishing by advancing good urbanism, traditional architecture and quality building.

Street Level is a fundamentally local organisation. We are currently active in Perth and Melbourne and working to seed the creation of local Street Level groups around Australia. See where we are active and register your interest in starting a Street Level group.

Start your own chapter

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Stop ugly, bland and soulless architecture and urban design

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Push back against and oversized, poor-quality developments

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Encourage beautiful architecture and resilient developments

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Plan and build a city or neighbourhood that will last hundreds of years

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Advocate for human-scale and walkable neighbourhoods

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Transform suburbia to promote human flourishing

Guiding principles

Beauty. We exist to advance beauty in the built environment.


We exist to advance beauty in the built environment. It is the natural state of humanity to seek out beauty. When something is beautiful, we are more likely to treasure it as something to be protected and celebrated. Beauty creates community and belonging. Beauty in the built environment is characterised by exquisite architecture and successful city planning. Ugly buildings, on the other hand, invite disdain, resentment or indifference.

‘People do not only want beauty in their surroundings. They are repelled by ugliness, which is a social cost that everyone is forced to bear. Ugliness means buildings that are unadaptable, unhealthy and unsightly, and which violate the context in which they are placed. Such buildings destroy the sense of place, undermine the spirit of community, and ensure that we are not at home in our world.’ — Living with Beauty report, UK Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government




Longevity. We advocate for buildings and developments that will last hundreds, if not thousands, of years.


It is commonly asserted that to construct exquisite buildings would be too expensive or impractical. We assert that this is not true — that it is actually more expensive to build a large volume of cheap, ugly and disposable buildings of little intrinsic value. Beauty offers the best value for money in the long run. We advocate for buildings and developments that will last hundreds, if not thousands, of years, just like the heritage buildings we work so hard to protect. We need sustainable, human-scale development that uses land efficiently, uses low-carbon materials and is less dependent on cars.




Tradition. We believe that there is an abundance of wisdom, knowledge and technology that our culture and institutions must rediscover.


Traditional development is the approach to building and development that humans have used for thousands of years across different countries, cultures and climates. It means building public spaces to a human scale, where a person on foot can feel comfortable and safe, and a fine-grained mix of uses were homes and businesses are in the same place. We believe that there is an abundance of wisdom, knowledge and technology that our culture and institutions must rediscover from the past and apply to modern development to drastically improve our built environment, with all the associated benefits. By looking back, we can look forward. We change the world to fit the vision, instead of constantly changing what the vision is.




Localism. We believe that decision-making should take place at the most local level possible.


We believe that decision-making should take place at the most local level possible. When development and planning decisions are imposed on communities by a centralised authority that is removed from the consequences of those decisions, we create fragile, unsustainable cities and neighbourhoods built on shaky foundations. When local power is removed from planning, unintended consequences magnify the risk of failure and harm and the likelihood of moral hazard increases. This approach created our sprawling suburbs and failing modernist public housing estates.
This does not mean we are opposed to all forms of planning, we just believe it should be conducted at the appropriate scale and resist imposing standardised solutions on local communities, especially when utilitarian goals such as profit and efficiency are prioritised over beauty, health and wellbeing. While infrastructure is important, our built environment should not be a mere byproduct of it.





Draft objectives

Increase the proportion of new buildings and developments that will last hundreds or thousands of years ⁠— not decades ⁠— and get better, not worse, with age

Increase the proportion of new buildings and developments that are beautiful according to a set of objective standards

Influence local design guides and state regulations to encourage beauty, refuse ugliness and promote resilience in the built environment

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What do we mean by beauty?

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? We say, no. Beautiful buildings outlast their function. Australians flock overseas to visit the great cities of the world because they are objectively beautiful. 

Blog coming soon
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The key to health and wellbeing

Building classical, traditional cities and suburbs is a key to improving mental and physical health, and research backs this up. Transforming the built environment is one of the best levers we have.

Blog coming soon
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Real sustainability

There is nothing more environmentally sustainable than building for hundreds and thousands of years, not decades. In lieu of solar panels and HVAC systems we can look to our ancestors’ solutions. 

Blog coming soon

Inspiration

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Nansledan, Cornwall

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Prince’s Quarter, Glebe

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Prince’s Terrace, Adelaide

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The Cotton District, Mississippi

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Serenby, Georgia

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Paseo Cayalá, Guatemala

We are building a revolution.

We are building a revolution to increase the number of beautiful, quality and enduring local neighbourhoods, streets and buildings in Australia through local chapters comprised of people who deeply love, and are fighting to improve, their local area.

Unlike most revolutions, we intend to restore, not purge, the wisdom of the past in a new vision of progress.

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Further reading and inspiration