A new suburban ambition – the past and future of the Australian suburb

A new suburban ambition – the past and future of the Australian suburb

  • 26 March – 5 April 2021
  • Due to limited in-person attendance available due to social distancing requirements please register via the link for the Public Lecture and Workshops. Online participation can be arranged.

  • MADA Gallery and Building G Concourse

Register here for the Public Lecture and Workshops

A design-led and aspirational dialogue about future suburban transformations. The events simply ask, “what do we want our suburbs to become?”.

Ideas, experiences and the form of Australia’s suburbs have changed markedly in responses to climate change and population growth. Covid19 has given us cause to re-think the suburbs again. The various lengths and intensities of lockdowns during the pandemic exposed deficiencies in contemporary suburban living, as well as unearthed new spatial potentials amplified by the ingenuity of suburban dwellers.

While many uncertainties persist around the ways we will live and work in future, the ongoing transformation of the suburbs is inevitable. Working with designers, urban historians, policy makers, developers and residents alike, "A New Suburban Ambition" will look backwards and forwards to interrogate issues of dwelling diversity and suburban built form quality in the context of other contemporary challenges, such as shifting work patterns, changing suburban industrial landscapes, ecological repair, infrastructure upgrades and circular economies and resources.

Presented by Monash's Lee-Anne Khor, Seamus O'Hanlon,  Simone Sharpe and Lionel Frost.

Public lecture: Opportunities to re-make the suburbs

Wednesday 31 March 5.30pm
Lecture Theatre G.104
Building G
Caulfield Campus, Monash University

Join us as our two guest speakers canvass the emergence of the suburban idea in Australia, how it has changed over time, contemporary opportunities for re-making contemporary suburbs and the modes of action and engagement required to realise those opportunities.


Graeme Davison is Australia's best-known urban historian and a leading social historian. His prize-winning books include The Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne, City Dreamers- The Urban Imagination in Australia and Car Wars- How the Car Won our Hearts and Conquered our Cities. He is a co-editor of the landmark Oxford Companion to Australian History and an emeritus professor at Monash University.

Mel Dodd is Professor and Head of Architecture at Monash University. She has been a collaborator with muf architecture/art and is responsible for innovative projects in the public realm in both London and Melbourne, working with local government on social policy initiatives for public space, including Shared Ground for Southwark Council (1997-2001). Her pedagogical practice focuses on the relationship between academia and practice, specifically within contested urban regeneration contexts. This is explored in her books Live Projects: Designing with People and Spatial Practices: Modes of Action and Engagement with the City.

Exhibition: Housing alternatives

26 March – 5 April 2021
Building G Concourse
Caulfield Campus, Monash University

A collection of contemporary dwellings design proposal for Australia's 'missing middle'.

Exhibition + workshops: The past and future of Australian suburbs

31 March – 5 April
Lecture Theatre G1.04
Building G
Caulfield Campus, Monash University

Multi-scalar design investigations undertaken through the PhD by Project program at Monash University. The work explores a range of design methods for engaging with the historical and future city. Share your insights into the lived qualities and future ambitions for suburban living and working at either of our workshops. PhD by projects research by Jacqui AlexanderAlysia Bennett, Gyöngyvér Engloner, Laura Harper, Lee-Anne Khor, Damian Madigan, Tom Morgan, and Diego Ramirez-Lovering. Plus a range of entrants to housing ideas competitions and design initiatives

  • Workshop 1: Looking backwards, 31 March, 2 – 5pm
  • Workshop 2: Looking forwards, Thursday 1 April, 10am – 1pm

Kindly supported by:

This event is part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

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