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

'Sistine Chapel' of skateboarding

By Amruta Purohit

I have seen quite few warehouses and other old industrial sheds being transformed into apartments and offices in Melbourne. At times it can be challenging to fit a functional apartment in these buildings, but the architecture of an old building creates a unique feel and adds character to a place.

The Spanish have taken the concept of transformation to a whole new level with an abandoned  church. The 100-year-old building has been transformed into a skate park and art installation. The project was led by Church Brigade, a group of enterprising individuals and is located in the northern Spanish town of Llanera. They started by collecting money to complete a basic ramp, however, as the word spread and they received more funds and the project expanded into a full skate park.

Image: Lucho Vidales

Image: Lucho Vidales

Image: Lucho Vidales
The project went through a two-stage process. The first stage involved installing an indoor skate park, the second stage involved painting bright and beautiful geometric figures to the walls and ceiling, giving the place a very iconic and distinct look. 

A space that had fallen into disuse as the end of the civil war has now become a place for skateboard pilgrims worldwide and a focus for the local community.

Read more here or to view more images of this beautiful transformation click here.

Starting them young

By Claire Whelan

When I was in kindergarten we got to plant a seed and grow a Sweet Pea. When the seedling had established itself we took them home to plant in the backyard. Within a week my pride and joy had been mauled to death by a caterpillar. I was devastated. My gardening skills have improved marginally since then, and I can generally keep basic pot plants alive and well for several weeks, and some I have even had for a few years. I hadn’t given much thought to my ill-fated Sweet Pea until I saw this article, which cultivates (pun intended) the idea on a larger scale.

Image source: Archdaily

There is so much children can learn through growing and caring for plants and animals. But I also started thinking about the project from a sustainability perspective. Could it have the potential to capture the curiosity of children and build a confidence in gardening and growing that could create a generation of urban farmers?

Just keep that bunny well away from the lettuce!   

The world we share

By Sean Hua

Federal Minister for the Environment and acting Minister for Cities and the Built Environment Greg Hunt has begun outlining a plan to increase tree coverage for cities. The effort is aimed at lowering the temperatures of our urban areas, and increasing the quality of life, especially for those most vulnerable to extreme heat like the very young and elderly.

Image source: The Fountain -

There have been successful attempts to do this at the local level. The City of Melbourne initiated their Urban Forest Strategies in 2013, made famous by giving the public the ability to “email a tree” of their choice.

Council has various rationales behind their strategy: to begin replacing the older trees that are reaching the end of their lifespan; to increase biodiversity and resilience of the urban landscaping; and as a benefit for its citizens health and wellbeing. The extra canopy shade and mitigation from the urban heat island effect – where urban areas are warmer due to human activity and buildings trapping heat – are bonus side effects. This is especially evident when people try to avoid the heat and end up costing the economy millions of dollars a day from the drop in retail activity.

It is easy (relatively speaking) to enact such strategies at the local level, especially in a council that is as progressive (relatively speaking) as Melbourne’s. What remains to be seen is whether the Federal government can enact this strategy and how. They will have to negotiate the various planning systems of each State, not to mention the variances between local governments. This would be especially challenging seeing as the Cities portfolio is newly created without much precedence. Where does their jurisdiction start and end? And if we are looking at delivery of an environmental project of such scale, what example is the acting minister setting with this track record?

Questions abound…. That said, the Feds should not be solely responsible for looking after the country we share, nor should other levels of government be solely responsible for the functions of state and city. While my belief is sorely tested on a daily basis, I would like to think we are mindful of the world we live in, and of the futures of our descendants. I often ask myself 'To whom does the world and future belong?' and I usually answer, 'To everyone, and to no-one.'

It might be too large a question to ponder, so if you need a small target, how about this: go plant a tree. I just did!