London Underground - reimagined!

Alternates to the London Underground map

The Death and Life of...

Planning for our future (figuratively speaking)...

Urban greening in high density environments

Creating 'Vertical Forests' in high density residential developments

Frank Lloyd Wright Revisited

Press rewind and play for a short travel back in time. There you are in the 1930s in the United States of America, the fatal crash of the stock market has just lured the most powerful country in the world into the long cold years of the Great Depression. Lives of many Americans have been dramatically and forever changed but yet history is still in progress. The Time Magazine’s cover features Hailie Selassie I – The Emperor of Ethiopia - on the day of his coronation; Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times illuminates the screens of the cinema theatres to comically depicture the gearwheel of a consumerist society and reflects on the aftermath of the black Thursday; Meanwhile in rural Pennsylvania a home is being built over a waterfall for the Kaufmann family by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Fallingwater, a national landmark, is listed among the Smithsonian’s List of 28 places to ‘visit before you die’ along with the Louvre and the Great Barrier Reef.

Now press forward to 2014, come on board and join the tour of great buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright with local Australian architect Malcom Carver. From June 29 to July 18, this tour will take you from Chicago to Los Angeles via Pittsburgh to contemplate and revisit the vision of Wright’s vision of organic architecture.

Read more here 

Rural living – Do so at your own (fire) risk?

Given the hot temperatures we have been experiencing this week, the news that the Victorian Government intends to make changes to the Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) is particularly topical. The bush fire risk is an ever more important issue given the increasing population densities as we push out into the rural-urban fringe and as the summers only get hotter.

The BMO is a planning instrument that applies to land that may be significantly affected by a bushfire. The overlay offers a layer of protection by triggering a requirement for a planning permit to ensure that new development implements appropriate bushfire protection measures. These include provisions for defendable space, static water supply and emergency access. This guide on the DTPLI website gives a basic overview:

This was originally introduced into the Planning Scheme through the recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, set up in response to the horrific fires known as Black Saturday. The outcomes of the 2009 Commission places great importance in using land - use planning to mitigate risk and recognised the shared responsibility that governments, fire agencies, communities and individuals have to prevent bushfire tragedy.

However, the owners of bushfire prone land have battled these regulations due to development restrictions they place on their land, in some cases making it unbuildable. Not only the residents but also rural Councils have been lobbying against the BMO on behalf of the local population, this emotive quote sums it up:

"(They've) discovered through the process they can't build on their block and are saddled with a mortgage and nowhere to go, Some of (landowners) are being pushed into depression, borderline suicidal, financial ruin.

Fiona McAllister, Yarra Ranges Mayor

The Minister has come out saying that changes will be made early in the new year that will balance peoples resistance to the bushfire protection measures with their right to live in the bush. He says

"I expect those changes will be very straight forward to allow residents to be able to build on their properties particularly on land that's been deemed unbuildable at this point of time. What we're going to do is ensure private land, private risk. That principal is paramount and importantly Victorians will be aware of their fire risk before they build."

Personally I can't imagine living with that constant fear each year as yet another hot and dry summer rolls around, and the knowledge that it's not a matter of if but when. However, the long term residents obviously feel differently and are determined to remain, with that defiant community spirit to stay in their homes and pick themselves up again. For some, possibly the majority, the benefits of the rural lifestyle and tight knit community outweigh the risks of living in a bushfire prone area.

What do you think, is it a matter of build at your own risk? it people's right to live where they want regardless of the danger, or is the Government responsible for their safety? And what about the cost - measured in both human lives and property damage….

Read more here

Xmas in the Laneway

Find your last minute Xmas gift ‘hidden in the gaps and cracks of Melbourne’s infamous laneways.
You may have that déjà vu feeling but this one is quite unusual: a gift voucher to one of the Laneway Learning classes.

The Laneway Learning Gang offers classes in pretty much everything and anything from how to use Henna, play the ukulele, gardening in small spaces, how to lobby you MP and why not a how to fund commuter rail projects class?


And to make this even better, this original concept is available in both Sydney and Melbourne.

Read more here

Introducing the Driveless Pods

With all of this talk about freeways versus trains, trams and buses in Plan Melbourne we thought the discussion about transport was getting a bit narrow and ‘old fashioned’. For a forward looking document shouldn't we be looking forward to more innovative solutions for transport in our modern cities? Here’s one innovative way to get around town efficiently and safely without having to stop to let other people off along the way or get crushed by the crowd – and it’s not a car.

Read more here

Blue Bike Saga

The regular hot Melbournian topic is back!

After 3 years of operation, the Melbourne Bike Scheme is up for expression of interest after the government announced that it is after a private operator to reinvigorate the current venture.

Only slightly used and now with courtesy helmets; there is opportunity for a private operator to come in, reinvigorate the scheme and expand it further. There is also opportunity to naming and branding rights.

The government is looking to a company that can run the system off its own merits and envisage it no longer require subsidies from the taxpayer.

Patronage is growing, with an average of 421 rides per day last month.

If you were to take over the Melbourne Bike Share Scheme, what would you do to ensure that it became a successful venture? Would you rename it, expand it or completely remodel it? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

To read more about the Melbourne Bike Scheme click here.