Green Age Dream: VEIL in Melbourne Weekly

This following text is from Green age dream: What does the future hold for a child born in Melbourne today?.

“Jane and Greg will be among the first ‘‘pre-emptive downshifters” to move to the “city of short distances“, an idea hatched in 2010 at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab.

Last year, the student design think-tank planned radical visions of Melbourne suburbs to show what would be possible in Melbourne’s green future. Working with Hume Council, they ‘‘revisaged” {sic} Broadmeadows, creating a vision for a green suburb of the future.  ‘‘Broadmeadows is very generic,” says VEIL’s Che Biggs. ‘‘It’s car-dependant, it’s very low density, it’s sprawling. Those type of suburbs are particularly vulnerable to the changes that we see over the next 50 years.” The Broadmeadows vision is just one of a remarkable collection of futuristic plans created in part by third-year design students at VEIL’s headquarters, located in a heritage-listed building at Melbourne University’s Carlton campus.

Another ambitious plan involves closing off Victoria Harbour and removing the salt water so the city’s rainwater run-off can be stored there for gardening. The students’ visions are described with new terms like “pre-emptive downshifter” – meaning those who opt for a slower, simpler way of life due to pressures from climate change and peak oil-related problems of the future. VEIL’s vision proposes that suburban cul-de-sacs be transformed to eliminate quarter-acre blocks, replaced with “porous neighbourhoods” that are easy to move around on bicycles and on foot, explains VEIL deputy director Michael Trudgeon.  ‘‘The cul-de-sac is a car-oriented [feature] designed to stop cars, but you can only get around that suburb in a car,” he says. Those on foot have to go the long way around to visit a neighbour over the back fence.

Cars barely rate a mention in VEIL’s plans, not even electric or hydrogen-fuelled varieties. Pedal-powered fruit and vegetable carts ply the avenues selling food grown above decentralised sewerage systems, which irrigate nearby parks and gardens with grey water and waste. Roads are replanted with gardens in raised beds, growing food and grasses to filter grey water. A local electricity grid provides power from sources such as wind turbines, solar panels and household generators, which also heat and cool, or from regenerative sources, where power is harvested from descending lifts, trains pulling into stations or exercise machines hooked up to generators.”