The Authorship of Space: The role of key individuals in the transformation of inner Melbourne from the late 1960’s to the mid-1980s and lessons learnt for today
AuthorHomewood, Penelope Jane
AffiliationArchitecture, Building and Planning
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-03-13.
© 2019 Penelope Jane Homewood
The purpose of this thesis is to provide new insights into how Melbourne was transformed between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s and understand how the lessons learnt from this work, along with a contemporary perspective on the urban condition, can assist the future planning and design of a more sustainable Melbourne. Archival research and interviews with politicians, academics and activists involved in Melbourne’s transformation over the research period under consideration, illustrate the important role urban design thinking and community-led activism had on driving the radical social, political and economic agenda that reshaped the city and led to inner Melbourne’s renowned liveability. Through outlining the cultural, socio-economic and political conditions over the study period, the thesis brings to light the planning theory and ideology of the time to provide a theoretical context for Melbourne’s evolution. When cities grow and change, it is not a linear or logical narrative but rather a dynamic story of overlays, interfaces and integration of place, people and politics. It is a story more complex than eclecticism, far removed from a set of procedures or rules. Melbourne’s transformation reflects the work of city planners who built on what was intrinsic to inner Melbourne, while being informed by highly active community activists, local residents, academics, students, politicians and professional bodies. The research outlines that urban change between the late 1960s and mid-1980s emerged with radical social change and there was a close interrelationship of ideology, geography, planning, culture and politics. A large consortium of people decided they were going to change the course of the city, and they did. Melbourne’s liveability is under threat of continuing decline as the city grows. There remains a tension between the rate of growth and the development models to accommodate this growth. The appropriate role and degree of government and community intervention in planning, and the role of the development market driving urban change, are in contention. Government is pushed by the development industry to make planning processes more efficient, faster and more streamlined. This pressure is compounded by the state government’s reliance on income generated from growth. While it is acknowledged that in this urban age, cities are increasingly important to drive economic development and create wealth, growth for growth’s sake will not sustain a great city. As championed by the city planners, politicians, academics and activists involved in Melbourne’s transformation over the research period, Melbourne’s growth must be in the best interests of all its citizens, driven by planning policies and strategies that enable those interests to be realised. The ‘radicals’ at the time of transformation sought a socially just society where urban planning was based on humanistic and ecological principles, informed by the daily experience of people who lived in the place. These ideals empowered a new breed of politicians at state and local government levels who believed in the importance of community engagement and oversight of integrated, design-led urban planning. This thesis concludes that Melbourne is in urgent need of planning reform and highlights the importance of greater understanding of the trade-offs that result from different models of city growth. Far greater attention, research and collaboration must occur across all sectors to plan and develop future Melbourne with academic institutions, city planning professionals and all tiers of government leading the way.
Keywordsinner Melbourne; urban transformation; urbanism; urban renewal; urban activism; urban design; urban radicals; urban growth; urban history; Ruth and Maurie Crow; Gough Whitlam; John Cain; Evan Walker; David Yencken; planning of Melbourne; City of Melbourne; Ron Jones; Rob Adams; Lecki Ord; future Melbourne
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