Design is an act of wilful optimism – a speculation on future possibilities. The challenge for architects and urban designers is the extended span of time between vision and realisation. Our proposal begins with the question: can we look 41 years past to see 41 years into the future?
1968 was described by Time Magazine as, “the year that split the past from the future”: a fulcrum in our global history marked the Vietnam War, the Apollo space program and the Paris student riots. The Sixties also gave rise to community reflection upon urban renewal policies that had led to much of our large scale transport infrastructure and the destruction of some of the historic fabric of our Australian cities. Today we are witness to the continued reverberations of September 11 and the War on Terror, the Global Financial Crisis, mass immigration, an aging population and the onset of climate change. By 2050 we may well reflect on the current times as a pivotal historical period that paralleled the late Sixties.
Australian cities today face a range of challenges: from severe drought and bushfires, to dramatic population growth, lack of affordable housing and urban sprawl. Our proposal stems from the idea that transformative change that is sometimes perceived as visionary, can emerge incrementally at a discrete and localised urban scale. It is the latent potential of even these most diminutive of design interventions that provides the greatest cause for optimism in addressing our cities’ future.
The city is an evolving organism. In tracing a trajectory from 1968 to 2009 and projecting beyond to 2050, we are drawing on our urban history and collective experience. Our design is intended less as “solution” and more as “working method”: a synthesis of analysis, speculation and cautionary argument that echoes the complexities and contradictions of the city fabric.
Design: Alex Peck, Fiona Dunin, Andrew Simpson
Project Team: Alex Peck, Fiona Dunin, Andrew Simpson, Martina Johnson, Chris Barnett, Myles Broad, Angus McIntyre, Tim Kreger