Melbourne is growing rapidly. This is not something new, however the metropolitan boundaries of the city have been reached. We can see this in a spatial sense, a social sense and in an economic sense. We stand in traffic longer, seem to need to manage our time-schedules and economic abilities optimally to fully participate in society. The gap between the haves and have-nots is increasing and shows up in the spatial organisation of this city. Additionally climate change is threatening our city, and all cities, in confronting ways. Changes are needed in the spatial organisation to respond to flash floodings, bushfire threats and extreme hot temperatures. We have reached a new normal.
Design is a tool to reconsider spatial changes for a new normal. The idea of the Australian Dream should change and possibly already has. The suburban backyard bliss of our city is barely exsistant anymore. Instead we have paved courtyards, multiple driveways and rooms in our houses we barely enter to offset the fallacy of the idea. This studio will use design projects to investigate new and unfamilar models of urbanising our city. We will challenge the housing status quo from the beginning. How much does a new normal Melburnian use, contribute, produce? How can that lead to models of housing, working, travelling, entertaining?
Questions such as these are not new either. They have been asked, tried, and tested for generations by architects, urbanist and artists. Most of the time the answers or models they produced only infuriated the debate for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they lead to inspiration and discovery. The question of the fifty thousand dwellings we need to build in Melbourne every year for the next 30 years requires different approaches and maybe we should set aside our preconceptions and outdated ideologies and consider the question differently. For example in Germany the concurrent IBA (Internationale Bau Ausstellung or International Building Exhibition) model has done so for more than a century. How do we test a IBA model in a Melbourne of the new normal?
The studio will look at, and design housing strategies in, a stretch of suburban Melbourne where the State Government is currently investigating the Suburban Rail Loop (SRL), a metropolitan scaled project to connect, and thus unlock the economic potential, middle suburban areas around the traditional city centre. The stretch of investigation reaches from Clayton in the south to Box Hill in the north and includes everything in between. It includes hospitals, shopping centres, universities, backyard bliss, leavy green suburban ideals, industrial estates, highways, New Urbanism and Modernism. Most of the areas suurounding the proposed stops are already changing, intensifying and growing beyond their suburban ideals, and the SRL will only increase their desirability. How do the modes of urbanisation fit to the new normal, or its inhabitants? Should they? What happens to the places just outside the stations’ reach?
This studio is part of a superstudio concurrently held at multiple institutions instigated by IBA Melbourne.