Melbourne, New York or Hong Kong?

Tuesday's Age Newspaper  published an article criticizing several Melbourne developers 'delusion' with attempting to recreate a 'fantasy' of Manhattan in Melbourne.

"As a one-time resident of the Big Apple, and a frequent visitor, it's both hilarious and disheartening that the elements that make New York City such an amazing place are being bastardised to sell a pup to locals."
The author (Daniel Ziffer of ABC radio) points out that the developers are marketing a 'Manhattan' lifestyle, although he states that the dominant built form in New York is lower rise.  Instead, the author likens the recently approved or constructed tower developments in Melbourne to Hong Kong.

"That city [Hong Kong] is vibrant and exciting in parts, but has many dense and grim neighbourhoods where skyscrapers block light and life from the streets."
Ziffer also refers to recent plans to expand residential development to the north and west of the CBD as 'Caroline Springs in the sky'.

Well it's up to you if you buy the 'New York' marketing of apartments in Melbourne.  The 'Sex and the City' lifestyle is appealing for many so I can see why they would want to make that link (though I think it's not so convincing myself).

As for likening Melbourne to the urban form of Hong Kong - um, no.  Even if we get quite a few more tall buildings, Melbourne will not resemble Hong Kong (for better or worse).  I certainly don't see the link between a few new developments and transformation into Hong Kong style urbanism. Alan Davies' blog The Urbanist also tears this analogy to shreds:

"I think Mr Ziffer has made a fundamental mistake here. He’s comparing the entirety of Manhattan and Hong Kong with just a small part of Melbourne’s CBD... In the order of 76 sq kms of Hong Kong is developed for housing use. That’s only a small part of the island but it’s an order of magnitude larger than the relatively tiny precincts in and around Melbourne’s CBD that’re slated for high rise housing."
Davies goes on to mention the benefits of more housing in the CBD, which will enable more people to access amenities, improve access to affordable housing, result in greater sustainability and enhance the vibrancy and street life of the area.

This said, I also think that you don't necessarily have to have mega-towers to achieve these benefits.  The character and amenity of Melbourne is important - and this must also be taken into consideration.

Read on here. Thanks to Matt Sacco (City of Greater Dandenong) for sending this newspaper article on to me.

Read Alan Davies post on the article at The Urbanist.


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