Melbourne's future: a sip of Tsim Sha Tsui and a gulp of Brooklyn

Daniel Ziffer, writing a comment piece in The Age on June 4th 2013 argued Melbourne was not like New York where “the diverse mix of housing in Manhattan — tenements, walk-ups, low-rise apartment buildings — is supported by the services that you get when a city develops over decades, not years”.

Unfortunately to date, the majority of the Melburnians have only been drip fed snippets from the mainstream media regarding apartment living and it has been a daunting and cumbersome task to truly gauge the sheer change that is upon the entire metropolitan area - and the author's above piece does not help.  

Not only is Melbourne retrofitting its suburbs in areas with existing services, public transport, schools and retail outlets, the bulk of new urban apartment development proposed or under construction in Melbourne is in the same category as New York's existing housing stock – low/mid-rise.

This is why I along with my co-director Mark Baljak started the Urban Melbourne project.

After more than a decade of inhabiting community forums dedicated to the observation and discussion of urban development around the world, we took great inspiration from Urban Toronto and went about building a database of development projects in our home town which everyone could access and draw their own conclusions from.

Whilst most of the author's piece appears to be his own negative reaction to marketing strategies employed by various agencies working for developers, it would be tenuous at best to suggest "Melbourne is going along another model: Hong Kong". It is extremely naive to focus solely on the Melbourne CBD and Southbank with a passing mention of Richmond as the author has done. The redevelopment of the inner-core of Melbourne really only tells the tall story, not the complete one.

We created the Urban Melbourne project database for the sole purpose to aggregate and share the knowledge which is located in different corners of the web - we're passionate about Melbourne's future development and want to work toward producing a content-rich and open data source so no-one in our community will be under any false pretense as to the direction in which Melbourne is heading. By spending just 5 minutes on the database, anyone will be able to understand 'medium and high-density development' are terms that are just as diverse as our city's population itself and it's not just the central core of Melbourne or any particular scale of development which is bringing positive change to our growing city - it's the sum of the whole.

Media industry professionals, academia, urban industry representatives and of course the community at large are all welcome to use and reference Urban Melbourne as a tool to better understand the scope of change Melbourne is seeing - and perhaps over time we'll all recognise Melbourne's urban nodes of the future will have a little Midtown Manhattan/Tsim Sha Tsui and a lot of antipodean Brooklyn, Shoreditch or Lincoln Park.

Note to journalists/editors: feel free to republish this article with reference simply to "Urban Melbourne".

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3 comments

Peter Maltezos's picture

Well said Alastair!

About The Age article yesterday, why do they always get it so wrong? 

I collect, therefore I am. thecollectormm.com.au
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Alastair Taylor's picture

It's not necessarily the Age - just the commentator.

This is the uphill battle ahead of us: making our presence known so the documented slip ups in that article don't get splashed across another masthead!

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Riccardo's picture

News writing is not, and has never been about facts. It is not 'upper brain' in that sense but tries to provoke our deepest programming. Fear, the other, jealousy. Read David Rock's work on neurology. Hong Kong is racist code, millions of little yellow ants swarming our city, taking our garden and SUVs and replacing them with hawker stalls and Hello Kitty. New York is code for Australian insecurity about success and stratified societies. Even Americans with their small town politics still admire their financial hub. They wrote songs about it, made TV shows idolising it, went into national mourning about losing iconic buildings to terrorism.

Australian wealth has never been very visible. The Reinhart and Palmer billions are just numbers to us, we have never revelled in that flamboyance portrayed in Great Gatsby, nor in the style of British old money.

So no, the Age is not trying to contribute to knowledge or wisdom, why would it, that doesn't sell papers or hit count.

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