As Melbourne’s population swells to 12 million humans, how will design, as a profession, champion, support, create and maintain the city’s status as one of the most liveable cities?
This is the question posed to the panel of speakers at the Future Melbourne/Future Design seminar this week. And, though each answered in his or her own unique way, the overarching theme was this: we need to take a holistic approach to design.
When our population growth swells, things like congestion on public transport and in traffic become bigger issues. How do we accommodate for a population size of New York City in Melbourne?
Soren Luckins, Creative Director of Buro North, believes we need to focus on densification. By this, he means we can’t forever grow outwards. We need to successfully densify our housing while maintaining a high level of connectivity for our citizens.
“When we get out there in the community and talk to people about our projects and developments, the fundamental thing everyone cares about is connectivity — whether that’s connectivity to education, transport infrastructure, local shops, or community.”
A prime example of a well-balanced residential project with advanced connectivity? Melbourne Grand. It sits in the middle of Lonsdale Street in the city, providing direct access to an array of public transport, shops and schools while simultaneously offering spaces in which neighbours can connect, like the Coffee Bar in The Lonsdale Club.
Director of Interior Architecture Kirsten Day, however, suggests we focus on the triple bottom line. The term refers to an accounting framework which focuses on three parts — social, environmental and financial impact.
“Having a good idea about the context in which we design, knowing our materials and impacts, and understanding the social impact of what we do as well as understanding the economic opportunities, will allow us to create sustainable homes,” Kirsten says.
The affordable apartments in Brunswick achieve a 7.5-star sustainability rating. Inside, each home features an intelligent use of recycled materials and energy efficient appliances. From low volatile organic compound paint and double-glazed windows to concrete floors and ceilings, Breese Street by Milieu exemplifies a consideration for the triple bottom line.
Finally, Kyle Wolf explains how the higher our population grows, the more people are feeling lonely. Kyle calls this the population paradox and to combat it, he says we need to take a human-centred approach.
We need to connect with one another. And, in recognition of this, more and more developers are crafting apartment projects with an emphasis on establishing a community between residents. Balfe Park Lane encourages resident interaction through the on-site noticeboard and a communal rooftop garden. Residents can even decide, collectively, what the hub on the ground floor should be used for.
So while the population growth number is scary, we can have faith that industry professionals like those at the Future Melbourne/Future Design event and developers such as the ones mentioned above will respond to the changing needs of our population.
Hero image: Design Institute of Australia
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