Swamp City

Master of Architecture
Semester 1, 2017

Studio leader(s)

Future scenarios for Arden Macaulay

Arden Macaulay is designated as one of Melbourne’s inner city growth areas. The reclaimed industrial history and its immediate proximity to the CBD and Parkville Employment cluster make the area ripe for future development. The investments in metropolitan infrastructure in and around Arden Macaulay support a high density living unlike other development areas in Melbourne.

The floodplain is an artificial, highly engineered landscape filled with objects and structures of other urban influences. Its central spine is a creek that is not a creek. Like many Australian watercourses it never really reached the sea but terminated in a swamp. The dredging of this swamp and the cutting of the creek towards it secured new land for sale and development in the late 19th century, while Melbourne was at the height of its global prowess. Now, a century later, while the land prices have skyrocketed and the attitude towards swamps and wetlands have changed, the floods return. The invisibility of older conditions may have been forgotten but in a future of changing climate and increased density these conditions resurface and disrupt the envisioned urban life.

The high-density tower model we see going up around Melbourne seems past its financial and qualitative lifespan. The scale of these developments (too big) and the type of apartment living (too small) they offer leaves us with an unanswered question about public amenity. Due to this combination of uncertain future, changing demographics, proximity to the CBD and the University while having to surrender to the muddy conditions of the landscape under a scenario of climate change, the development area can accommodate new and unique building typologies.

The studio will investigate how underlying landscapes can inform building typologies and how at a time of new climate threats these typologies can evolve towards a liveable future. The individual and group work will culminate in an interdisciplinary public exhibition to be held in late June, incorporating the parallel work of CRC researchers and stakeholders.

In association with the Co-operative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities

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