Tech meets tradition in Melbourne’s "suburb of the future"

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Yarrabend's streets will have a kerbless design that is said to be inspired by Scandinavian bike-friendly cities

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A new suburb of Melbourne, Australia, will be home to a mix of new technology and old traditions, according to its developer, Glenvill. The firm says that Yarrabend will be holistically designed with green spaces, solar-powered homes with battery backup, a tech concierge and its own app.

Like Bicester in the UK and the New Rainier Vista micro-community in the US, Yarrabend is designed with sustainability in mind. Located in the banks of the Yarra river, it will be 6.5 km (4 mi) from Melbourne's central business district, with good access to public transport and road links. It will boast its own onsite retail and hospitality offerings.

The area includes the former site of a paper mill, which was built in 1918. Materials from the original mill are to be recycled and reused as Yarrabend is developed, while there are also plans for local flowerbeds to reference "the stately gardens of grand mansions that once graced the riverbank."

The area is surrounded by parklands and green spaces for walking, exercise and relaxation, including Darebin Parklands and Yarra Bend Park. There will also be an elevated linear park call the Paper Trail that will feature cycling, walking and running tracks and will connect to a range of outdoor gym equipment.

A variety of other sporting facilities will cater for the healthy lifestyles of Yarrabend residents, including multipurpose courts, ovals and golf facilities. A wellness center, meanwhile, will provide a 25-m (82-ft) indoor pool, a sauna, a spa, massage rooms and a gymnasium, as well as indoor and outdoor gym equipment.

Bike paths throughout connect the area to the city, and the streets will have a kerbless design that's said to be inspired by Scandinavian bike-friendly cities. Walkways and bike paths will take priority over road traffic.

Prospective residents are able to choose from a range of so-called premium homes, townhomes and apartments, ranging in size from three- to six-bedrooms. It's possible for people to pick homes that are already completed, or to have one designed to their own tastes and requirements. Materials for interiors include oak floorboards, wool carpets, stone benchtops and custom-designed fixtures and fittings.

According to Glenvill, Yarrabend also has the highest EnviroDevelopment certification score of six stars. The certification is described as a "scientifically-based assessment scheme" for the sustainability of developments and takes into account performance across ecosystems, waste, energy, materials, water and community elements.

Among the area's sustainability credentials are photovoltaic panels on homes as standard coupled with Tesla Powerwalls that can store excess energy to further improve efficiency. Homes are also fitted with energy efficient lighting and there are optional charging points for electric vehicles in all garages, as well as an electric car sharing network.

Residents of Yarrabend will have access to high-speed internet and a complementary "tech-concierge" service. This will allow them to call for technical assistance for tasks like smart wiring or setting up Wi-Fi home entertainment systems. In addition, a YarraBend app will provide residents with information like public transport timetables, home delivery menus, carpooling arrangements and social events.

We're waiting for confirmation on cost. Residents are expected to be able to start moving into Yarrabend from late 2017 and early 2018, although the project as a whole won't be fully completed at that time.

Source: Yarrabend

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