Studio leader: Leire Asensio Villoria
While the suburbs have become a familiar and prevalent model of urbanization, the drive to offer an alternative to the congestion and density of the city has historically been a valuable area of exploration for the design disciplines. The advent of a counter movement to the 19th century metropolis has encapsulated a broad spectrum of exemplary figures, theories and experiments in urbanism. Frederick Law Olmsted, Ebenezer Howard, Raymond Unwin, Frank Lloyd Wright, Reyner Banham, Robert Venturi with Denise Scott Brown, Marion Mahoney with Wal-ter Burley Griffin, Ludwig Hilberseimer with Mies Van Der Rohe, the Hampstead Garden Suburb, Riverside, Broadacre City, Lafayette Park, Learning from Levittown, Los Angeles; The Architecture of Four Ecologies, Castlecraig and Eaglemont are just a few of these notable contributions to urbanism. The common motivations underpinning these projects could be seen to have been an impulse to offer a model for living environments that would enable lifestyles more closely related to the open spaces and gardens that had been absent within the metropolis.
Today, notable experiments in suburban living persist with much of contemporary innovations in architectural, landscape and urban design often taking place in the city’s periphery or its suburbs. However, with a growing awareness of the limitations in extending the suburbs as a sustainable model for urbanization and the massive burdens it can impose on our infrastructure, social lives and health, much of this activity has centered around a wider professional and disciplinary mandate to address the tension between the enduring desire for “a house with a garden” against pressures for higher densities.
This tension is an imminent concern for Melbourne, where its legacy of extensive suburbanization runs counter to challenges posed by the projections for steady population growth as well as a trans-forming demographic. While higher density development and strategies of suburban renovation offers intelligent means for addressing these concerns forecasted for the city, inertia and entrenched cultural values invested in suburban ways of living can conflict with these larger planning ambitions. In this studio, you will be tasked with investigating how Melbourne’s proposed metropolitan centers of growth in its suburban extensions may densify intelligently. You will consider how these new centers may also enable this densification while also addressing a model for urbanization that is sensitive to concerns surrounding crucial aspects of sustainable development as well as enabling the cultivation of civic and ecologically enriched urban spaces or environments. The studio will engage with these sites in order to offer tangible design proposals that adopt a projective attitude towards addressing the opportunities offered by this apparent contradic-tion between an objective need for more compact forms of urban development with a per-sistent desire to conserve (or reclaim) the treasured qualities offered by suburban living.