Colouring Australia

Colouring Australia is a free knowledge exchange platform designed to provide open data on the country’s building stock. Colouring Australia showcases fifty types of open data in 12 key categories to provide multidimensional data on and a holistic view of Australia cities. Developed as open-source software, Colouring Australia allows key users from government, industry, and academia to collect, collate, visualise, and release open data on the building stock in order to improve the quality, sustainability, and resilience of building stock. Colouring Australia looks to advance a whole-of-society approach to knowledge sharing on buildings and cities, allowing for permanent open databases to be collaboratively maintained and enriched by all. The programme works with local, regional, national and international partners to develop open platform code also of relevance to other cities.

Colouring Australia is being developed as part of the Australian Housing Data Analytics Platform (AHDAP) and it is affiliate of the Colouring Cities Research Programme. The Colouring Cities Research Programme originally developed from The Alan Turing Institute, London, now comprises numerous partners in Australia, Bahrain, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

New datasets and features are added all the time. Any help you can give, colouring-in our building maps, and enriching and verifying our open datasets is very much appreciated.

All our data and code are free to download, use and share under our open licence terms.

What is Colouring Australia?

Colouring Australia is a free knowledge exchange platform, designed to collate, collect, generate, visualise, open spatial data on every building across Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. It also releases open platform code to enable its design to be easily reproduced.

If you live in, research into, design, build, manage, care for, or just love Australia’s buildings, this platform has been designed to help you share your knowledge to make the city more sustainable. We're looking for volunteers of all ages and abilities, and contributors from academia, government, industry and the voluntary sector, to help colour-in the city's buildings, to create beautiful, informative, and accurate maps.

Colouring Australia is part of the international Colouring Cities Research Programme. It is headed by the City Futures Research Centre based in the University of New South Wales, one of Australia’s leading research institutes for urban research and spatial data science.

The platform also brings together, for the first time, the key Federal agencies responsible for researching and monitoring national housing and planning policy – the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC), Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) – together with eight leading Australian universities. Other industry partners include the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, The NSW Government (Spatial Services) and Omnilink Pty Ltd. The project is funded under the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) Platforms program with funding contributions from Project Partners.

The development of Colouring Australia is led by the City Futures Research Centre, UNSW; and, our Australian academic partners include Curtin University, the University of Queensland, the University of South Australia, Swinburne University, and the University of Tasmania. Please find the relevant contact details for any and all inquiries on Colouring Australia.

Colouring Australia and Colouring Sydney

Project Lead: Dr. Matthew Ng (City Futures Research Centre)

Colouring Adelaide

Academic Partners: Prof. Chris Leishman (University of South Australia) and Dr. Ali Soltani (University of South Australia)

Colouring Brisbane

Academic Partners: Dr. Elin Charles-Edwards (University of Queensland) and Ms. Shuang Zheng (University of Queensland)

Colouring Canberra

Academic Partners: Prof. Robert Fitzgerald (UNSW Canberra)

Colouring Melbourne

Academic Partners: Prof. Marcus White (Swinburne University)

Colouring Perth

Academic Partners: Dr. Parisa Izadpanahi (Curtin University) and Md. Ashikuzzaman (Curtin University)

Why do we need Colouring Australia?

The building stock makes up most of a city's fabric and is a society's most important physical resource. The quality of our buildings, and the streets they form, and particularly of our homes which comprise the vast majority of buildings, will have a profound effect on the quality of our lives. However geospatial data on buildings, required to measure and improve quality and performance in the stock, continue to be highly fragmented, and are difficult to access in the Australia and in many other countries.

Buildings and building construction are responsible for around 40% of global energy use, and 24% of global material extraction from the lithosphere. Tightening of international energy and waste legislation since the 1990s has led to a major shift in Australia, from a focus mainly on new buildings to the stock as a whole and the need to reduce energy and waste flows and increase resilience within it. Tracking the demolition and retrofit of buildings, which are complex finite resources, and measuring the scale of material extraction and energy and waste flows generated through churn in the stock are now of increasing concern. These research targets come inline with current government policies to better understand the country’s building stock in the face of a constrained housing supply, rising unaffordability, and policies for net-zero emissions.

This has created an urgent demand from scientists for more detailed data on the characteristics of buildings for analysis, monitoring, and for simulations and forecasting models. Though large-scale building attribute datasets are being released in some countries (e.g., property tax datasets), in Australia, attribute data remain heavily restricted even for academic research.

Colouring Australia and the Colouring Cities Research Programme have been set up in response to this situation and test a new type of open knowledge exchange platform. This centres around an open database designed to collate, capture, generate and drive the release of open building attribute data, and to provide open platform code facilitating platform reproduction. The key aim of Colouring Australia and the Colouring Cities Research Programme is to work across countries to support the objectives of the United Nations 2016 New Urban Agenda and its goal to promote the development of sustainable, inclusive, healthy and resilient cities and stocks.

What are we collecting?

Our platform collects data on the physical form, quality and performance of Australia's buildings, as well as their lifespans and history. This includes temporal data on building age, energy usage, accessibility, building type, and their planning context. Over the next several years our goal, with your help, is to provide free spatial statistics on the location, use, age, size, street context, designers/ builders, planning status, sustainable performance, repairability, and site history of all buildings in Australia

Please view below for descriptions of our collected data categories.

Data Categories


Location data is the first type of data collected. Coordinates, addresses and building footprints for every building are collated in the Colouring Australia platform as an accurate relational item that allows other data to be collected, mapped and spatially analysed. In Colouring Australia, the greater the number of location categories collected, the darker the building colour is, allowing you to quickly see where more data are required.

Current Use:

Use data provides information on building usage, floor space and tenancy types. This allows a count of building types and space allocation to be developed. Other metrics include designated land-use by state planning, the predominant ground floor use, as well as locational attributes such as building density and average buildings distance to other buildings.


The kind of activities and number of people a building was originally designed to hold, as well as the period in which it was built, will affect a building's form, including its size, shape, decorative features and layout. Such characteristics are also used to group buildings into specific types or typologies, where copies or versions also exist. Understanding the location of different building typologies is important in areas such retrofit of buildings to improve energy efficiency, allowing retrofit methods and budgets to be more accurately targeted and understanding how buildings and packed together.  Understanding survival rates for different typologies, and identifying and retaining adaptable ones, is also necessary to reduce unnecessary waste and energy in construction, and to learn from the past to build more long-lasting buildings for the future.


The Heritage category comprises attributes such as building age, year of construction, year of demolishment, year of refurbishment, heritage zoning, and other historical notes. Building age is also commonly used, and recorded, by architectural historians, building conservationists, heritage specialists and urban morphologists. Information on building age, generated from date of construction, is extremely important for geolocating building types. More recently building age data have also become increasingly used in energy and urban sustainability research, particularly in emissions analysis and urban heat assessments. Here construction date is often combined with other attribute data to help describe the building's form, particularly its geometry and volume.


The Size category comprises data including building footprint size, ratio to land plot, building height and the number of storeys. Data on the size and geometry of a city's buildings have many applications ranging from use in 3D digital city models, to understanding implications to changes to the height of a city's buildings, to analysing and predicting energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions, and the build-up of urban heat.Data on the dimensions of buildings are also relevant to many other areas of urban research, from analysing housing capacity and identifying areas suitable for densification, to observing (within urban science and urban morphology) long-term patterns of change within urban form.


Construction data focuses on the materiality of each building, including the type of materials used, the construction method, and its facade. This data has applications in fire safety, energy efficiency, and has further links to advancements in construction technology over time.

Street Context:

Street context contains information on space surrounding each building; in particular, its greenscape and its accessibility, including tree coverage, distance to parks, and a new walkability index developed by the City Futures Research Centre. These are relevant to multiple applications ranging from calculating and predicting volume of energy emissions, to assessing housing quality and supply, to predicting structural failure or informing the development of local plans. Using these data, open 3D rule-based city models can also begin to be built.


Planning captures data on whether a building is protected from demolition or change. Work being conducted now is to link this to the Australian planning portal to instantly visualise the progress, location, and scope of work of current planning applications.


Sustainability includes data on the efficiency of services within individual buildings. It includes energy rating performance, waste and disposal ratings, as well as water ratings. This complements city sustainability goals and accounts for buildings that may require upgrades to bring buildings up to code.


Dynamics captures data on the evolution of the city, on incremental development within plots over long periods of time, and on building lifespans. These are needed to track rates of change, assess, typology survival rate, predict lifespans and anticipate vulnerability to demolition and system failure. Lifespan data includes construction and demolition date pairs for history of site.  Dynamics categories have been designed, in consultation with historians and heritage experts, to encourage input from architectural historians, civic societies, building conservationists and others with expert knowledge of building history.  We are also experimenting with automated approaches to age data generation which allow faster coverage of the city.


Community data encourages the public to contribute their sentiment of buildings to the Colouring Australia platform. This includes local input on the contribution of buildings to the city in services and its social value to the city.


Team data captures data on developers, designers and builders. Further work is being conducted to populate this field across all Australian cities.

Use and License Statement

Colouring Australia data are provided "as is", without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to the warranties of merchantability, accuracy, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. In no event shall the universities represented be liable for any reliance that you place on or how you use the data nor any claim, damages or other liability, whether in an action of contract, tort or otherwise, arising from, out of or in connection with the data or the use or other dealings in the data. Colouring Australia data are crowdsourced from multiple sources and may contain errors. Though we cannot comment on data accuracy, we try to include as many features as possible to help users assess their reliability and suitability for specific types of use (be this a school project or scientific paper). As information on sources is very important, contributors are asked to add these, and to verify data, wherever possible.

We ask all our contributors to:

  • adhere to our Code of Conduct
  • never knowingly add data that derives from a restricted, copyrighted, malicious or illegal source
  • help us create an open data platform that supports the development of sustainable, resilient, inclusive, and equitable cities, and encourages the use of data for the public good
  • add sources wherever possible, to benefit others
  • verify data, whenever possible, to benefit others
  • ensure our open licencing terms are fully adhered to regarding our open data, and our open code
  • provide us with as little personal data as possible
  • take full responsibility for assessing the reliability of Colouring Australia data and its suitability for any intended use.
  • provide feedback on actual or potential privacy and security concerns

Code of Conduct

This Code of Conduct is adapted from the Contributor Covenant, version 1.4, available at

Our Pledge

In the interest of fostering an open and welcoming environment, we as contributors and maintainers pledge to make participation in our project and our community a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of age, body size, disability, ethnicity, sex characteristics, gender identity and expression, level of experience, education, socio-economic status, nationality, personal appearance, race, religion, or sexual identity and orientation.

Our Standards

Examples of behaviour that contributes to creating a positive environment include:

  • Using welcoming and inclusive language
  • Being respectful of differing viewpoints and experiences
  • Gracefully accepting constructive criticism
  • Focusing on what is best for the community
  • Showing empathy towards other community members

Examples of unacceptable behaviour by participants include:

  • The use of sexualized language or imagery and unwelcome sexual attention or
  • advances
  • Trolling, insulting/derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks
  • Public or private harassment
  • Publishing others' private information, such as a physical or electronic address, without explicit permission
  • Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a professional setting

Our Responsibilities

Project maintainers are responsible for clarifying the standards of acceptable behaviour and are expected to take appropriate and fair corrective action in response to any instances of unacceptable behaviour.

Project maintainers have the right and responsibility to remove, edit, or reject comments, commits, code, wiki edits, issues, and other contributions that are not aligned to this Code of Conduct, or to ban temporarily or permanently any contributor for other behaviours that they deem inappropriate, threatening, offensive, or harmful.


This Code of Conduct applies within all project spaces, and it also applies when an individual is representing the project or its community in public spaces. Examples of representing a project or community include using an official project e-mail address, posting via an official social media account, or acting as an appointed representative at an online or offline event. Representation of a project may be further defined and clarified by project maintainers.


Instances of abusive, harassing, or otherwise unacceptable behaviour may be reported by contacting the project team at the Australian Housing Data Analytics Platform. All complaints will be reviewed and investigated and will result in a response that is deemed necessary and appropriate to the circumstances. The project team is obligated to maintain confidentiality with regard to the reporter of an incident. Further details of specific enforcement policies may be posted separately.

Project maintainers who do not follow or enforce the Code of Conduct in good faith may face temporary or permanent repercussions as determined by other members of the project's leadership.

For answers to common questions about this code of conduct, see