Melbourne’s great architecture

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I gave the following speech to the Institute of Architects in Melbourne in 2010 with it appearing in their annual publication.

Melbourne’s great architecture

Melbourne is a city of some great architectural juxtapositions. Old and new. Think Museum and Exhibition Centre. Or Rialto.

Melbourne has, in its past, had some architectural horror stories, but Gas and Fuel thankfully left the scene.

Over the last twenty years, the architecture of modern Melbourne has developed to the extent that it is a great city, staying connected to its past and looking forward to its future.

Having recently returned from many years abroad I am now in the great position of coming home and being an expatriate at the same time. This experience has allowed me to wander the streets with the awe of a tourist and also the sense of belonging and being at home.

Now Melbourne is a handsome city. Down the road from what is without doubt one of the most beautiful major cities in the world, Melbourne has no great harbour and bridge, instead built architecture is what makes Melbourne handsome.

So what of the future?

The Committee for Melbourne is a 100% private sector funded organisation committed to improving the future of Melbourne. It is made up of Melbourne’s leading 170 organisations and businesses, including many of the top architectural firms, who come together to do networking, activities and policy advice to government to keep Melbourne amongst the world’s most liveable cities.

The Committee for Melbourne is focussing the energies and enthusiasm of its members on Melbourne’s future as the greater urban area grows in population and perhaps size. The input of the member architectural firms in this thinking is critical.

We believe that the current debate on population size misses one critical point: Melbourne will get bigger and it can get better as it gets bigger.

Think about this: Melbourne in 2010 is twice the size of Melbourne 1960. At four million instead of two, Melbourne is unambiguously better in 2010 with twice the population, than it was in 1960 with half.
We therefore have already proved that you can get bigger as you get better. Our parents did it.

Can this continue? If we have become better as we got bigger while doubling from 2 million to 4 million, can we also get better as we double from 4 million to 8 million sometime in the second half of the century?

The Committee for Melbourne believes we can get bigger and better, but only if we plan it. Melbourne will not accidentally get better, it has to be thought out.

Committee for Melbourne released a series of four reports looking at Melbourne (see the launch speech here). These reports include:

1.    The Melbourne proposition (we can get better and bigger at the same time), and the need for Planning:  we need a visionary planning and implementation focal point within government
2.    Density:  We need innovative design solutions for density and we need to recognise the positive aspects of density.
3.    Infrastructure: We need long range infrastructure planning and prioritisation for major spending looking forward 50 years.
4.    Community, Connectivity and Economy: What are our future jobs, how do we maintain the village feel of suburbs and how do we continue to avoid ghettos and slums.

The aim of these reports is to inspire the debate and planning around how we can get bigger and better as a city at the same time. The continuing improvement to our built environment will be critical to Melbourne’s ongoing enhancements and the role of architects in this foundation debate is critical.

For more information about the author, see here.
To email Andrew, click here.
To see Andrew’s speaking videos on these topics, click here

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