This project investigates potential design strategies for regenerating Melbourne’s middle suburbs – more specifically the residential neighbourhoods in those suburbs. It examines how conventional delineations of public and private domains might be reconsidered and restructured to create new shared thresholds of diverse and intensified use.
While the suburbs share the infrastructural DNA of the city, they fail to adapt and evolve like their ‘urban’ counterpart. This study interrogates the specific physical make-up of Melbourne’s suburbs and reconstructs a spatial narrative within which new design possibilities can emerge.
A top-down approach explores the suburbs in a metropolitan context to reveal the particular circumstances and ideologies that have influenced Melbourne’s settlement patterns. The research challenges the contemporary notion of ‘neighbourhood character’ through the spatial history of the ‘¼ acre block’ and, now, the dual occupancy.
A bottom-up exploration starts, not with the object of the private dwelling, but the public-private ‘buffers’ around the dwelling: building set-backs, front yards, driveways and nature strips. These semi-public thresholds shape the physical fabric and collective occupation of the suburbs. Their aggregation constitutes the (sub)urban field.
A redundancy, or slack, exists within the thickness of these public-private boundaries, representing new sites for localised interventions and urban change. By redefining the (sub)urban field – the space between the architectural object and the urbanism of the metropolis – this project seeks to articulate a future (sub)urbanism for Melbourne.