Civic Report: Diversity and Resilience

Patchworks of diversity provide resilience in extreme conditions.

The extent of unusual (and extreme) weather events over the last decade has surely demonstrated to everyone just how valuable two of EBD’s founding principles have been – its diversity and its active culture of experimentation. Experimentation is embraced by the community and supported by ACUR; diversity is a fundamental characteristic of all aspects of EBD life – in approaches to sustainability, in building types, demographic communities, businesses and life-styles.

EBD residents have been relatively unaffected by the extreme temperatures last March or the “Melbourne Monsoon” which created such devastation across the city last October. The district (its infrastructure and activities) has had to be flexible to adapt to change. Many buildings in Melbourne were developed with only a concern for the immediate future with insufficient attention to just how different that future might be; consequently much of the city reflects various environmental and economic considerations and attitudes of bygone years. EBD has overcome this limited mindset by starting with a long-term vision and developing systems that are more flexible and infrastructures that have been able to transform in response to different environmental circumstances. This has increased the security of the site, deflecting the vulnerabilities associated with unpredictable climatic disturbance.

The site really consists of a number of precincts, with each one having a unique character. These have not created ghettos; there aren’t separate and physically distinct communities, but a frequent observation about EBD is that it is a “patchwork of diversity”. This patchwork creates strange and unusual connections, contrasts and combinations; even with the porous boundaries of the precincts (neighbourhoods), the intersection points between the ‘precincts’ form system connectors which have proved to be ‘creative locations of opportunity’ which stimulate experimentation and innovation.