The role of the urban designer through education, from the perspective of a current student and part-practitioner, is clearly about providing an interrelationship between design education, and the profession (student work place). My activity centre research has been based on an investigation through a Landscape Architecture and Urban Design Studio, the RMIT Activity Centre Planning Conference, and knowledge from my practice life. It looks into the future possibilities of activity centres in Melbourne, and touches on the mix between landscape architecture, urban design and urban theory to the city.
One of the most valuable elements to come out of my investigation was the broader relationship to strategic sources: CSIRO Future Dilemmas Report, Melbourne City Council 2010 City Plan, City of Yarra 2010 City Plan, and Melbourne 2030 Plan (implementation plans and technical reports). Part of my research was understanding the actual spatial types that existed in Melbourne, and establishing analysis across activity centre lists. This analysis enabled a different understanding of the centres, and highlights that development may not be perfect for all centres. This investigation into the types of human uses that exist in centres enabled an output with a mathematical basis, providing strong comparison between types; the below data provides an insight into my analytical proposition for activity centres.
The reasoning for going to a centre is bound by the following sets of types:
- each type reflects a different type of human activity (or use)
- combinations of these elements provides the diversity within an activity centre
- diversity is not an indication of its success or functionality, but of its ability to draw a multitude of different people
- the sum of each occurrence is therefore the diversity figure for each indicator
- The sum of the indicators gives you the final diversity rating for each centre; and Diversity (Rating) = necessity + choices + entertainment + information + transition
My analysis, while not a conclusive model, provides an edge or differentiated look at centres, something planning could be strongly critiqued on. The analysis does not predict what a centre needs or requires, but enables a certain judgement to be possible. Do we need to increase dwellings around a principal strip centre? Or is not a viable option due to the other diverse needs required in the place, with this increase. I don’t think this analysis system provides the complete solution. It seems easy for a student/landscape architect, quasi-urban designer and urban theorist to stand back and believe there is the intention to provide solutions to these problems. Perhaps the future requirement of urban design education is to provide students who will actively seek to push the limitations, challenges and possibilities of our community. We cannot actively seek a utopian get away for Melbourne, but we can seek to continually create a more sustainable community, lifestyle and a greater city for us all – as the principal role for the urban designer.
Also in UDFQ 63: September 2003:
- Rob Cowan visiting Australia
- Next Edition: Culture and the built environment
- UD strengthened at RMIT University
- Urban Design a must for Kiwi Architecture students
- Who wants an Urban Design education?
- Urban designers – then and now
- MUDD at University of New South Wales
- Urbanism in SEQ
- MUD at Melbourne University
- Urban design at Sydney University
- The art of asking questions
- Urban design laboratory
- Urban Design Forum meets RMIT