Within the new regime of Plan Melbourne, a series of sites are designated as ‘Expanded Central City Urban Renewal Areas’. These are cathodic or sacrificial sites that will save the established middle suburbs from the radical changes that accompany growth. However, Melbourne’s recent form with the development of renewal at this scale (go and see Docklands) is guided by a series of formulaic received ideas and empty clichés that ensure the promise of future Melbourne as a ‘design city’ or a ‘most liveable city’ will be stillborn within the new territories. This studio will contest these generic and unquestioned orthodoxies of city making – the tabula rasa, the co-ordinating master plan, a benign public realm, the building as autonomous object – and seek to uncouple them from the venturous spatially imagined design that might be argued as the legacy of the late 19th Century’s ‘Marvellous Melbourne’.
We will examine counter arguments based on enabling infrastructure and spatial agency and put our assumptions under the stress of providing new precincts to accommodate Plan Melbourne’s projected population density of 200 people per Ha (or three times that of Carlton). The site and brief will be the newly proposed 200Ha ‘Employment Precinct’ at Fisherman’s Bend.
The studio outcome will be a design proposition or ‘white paper’ to be submitted to the state as part of the Employment Precinct’s Community Engagement process which runs until the end of this year.