I know its been quite a while since I last posted, and being busy is never an excuse, but I have something to share as a result of my “busyness.” I wrote a paper. More exciting than the paper though, I got to travel to Melbourne last week to share the paper at a conference. Of course while I was not at the conference I spent my free time exploring “Australia’s cultural capital.” Part of my explorations included interviews and field visits for work, I also had time thought to enjoy a few of Melbourne’s famous coffee shops, cafes, laneways, bookshops and an independent movie theater.
After a few days in central Melbourne, Carlton, and Fitzroy it is hard to image that this city center was practically empty in a few decades ago. With the help of a few key urban planning and design policies through the streets have again become active with pedestrians, cafes with out door seating, and people gathering in the city after 5pm. Additionally Melbourne maintained much of its character when decided to keep its laneways, or alleys, that had become filled with street art, and some crowded with shops and cafes. According one city official this decision has greatly contributed to the cultural scene that exists in Melbourne as compared to other cities like Sydney that redeveloped its laneways.
There are many other planning policies and projects in Melbourne that have contributed to this creative city. What I find most interesting though is that these policies are not just actively about creating space but are also about maintaining existing spaces in their seemingly “unplanned” state. Enjoy some photos from my trip below.
Flinders Street Train Station
Federation Square, once called Melbourne’s “Living room”
The sun setting behind St Paul’s Cathedral, seen from Federation Square
A laneway with filled with cafe, pubs, and street art
The Harlem Globe Trotters in Fitzroy
A studio at Boyd School Studios, one of the spaces leases by the City under Melbourne’s Creative Spaces Program
To read more about Melbourne’s urban design strategies see the 2004 study conducted by Gehl Architects: Places for People. All photos were taken by the author.