The locals helping to ensure the city is one for all
In an effort to prioritise the importance of architecture, design and urban amenities in the city, the City of Melbourne has established a new Design Excellence Advisory Committee, which includes two locals from North Melbourne.
This forward-thinking move from the City of Melbourne is one enriched with hopes of “cementing” Melbourne as a “world leading design city”.
“We want to see streets and squares as beautiful as Amsterdam, a skyline that is as classy as Chicago and a design culture that is as hardcore as Copenhagen – all done in a Melbourne way,” Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said.
Consisting of eight technical experts and three technical advisors, the committee is complete with five community members. All of whom will actively work through design challenges and opportunities facing Melbourne.
And North Melbourne community member and “critical friend” of the city, Lara Brown is determined to help Melbourne become more “inclusive and accessible”.
Immigrating from the United States, the Ohio-born member lived in Chicago before making Melbourne her “home” 10 years ago. And she now works as an outreach and communications manager for Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN).
While quick to acknowledge Melbourne’s abundant green spaces, world-renowned laneways, convenient public transport (minus the fees attached) and architecture, she urges for more work to be done in helping vulnerable community members.
“As a parent of a disabled child I can offer mine and my son’s personal experience. I notice a lot of things being offered to disabled people that are not up to the standard of what non-disabled people receive,” she said.
“We still have a way to go with accessibility for disabled people. My son likes to run off and so I would feel more comfortable if I could go to a park that was actually enclosed. I would like to see that improved.”
Joining Ms Brown on the committee is North Melbourne resident and academic Ben Milbourne.
A lecturer in the Master of Architecture Design course at RMIT and director of an urban design and architectural studio, Mr Milbourne plans on bringing both his industry experience and personal interests to the committee.
“To be able to contribute to the maintenance and development of the whole city, including the precincts outside of the central city, through design strategy and policy is very exciting,” he said.
“Sustainability and climate response is a pressing and urgent issue of our time and I am quite interested in how we transform a policy or an attitude about reducing environmental harm into one of regeneration and restoration of environmental systems.”
With the committee including a balance of “high level expertise” members and those with “lived experience”, Mr Milbourne also notes the potential for the city to become a place for everyone.
“One of the issues I have is around equity and who gets to benefit and access the city and infrastructure,” he said.
“We need to find a way to make sure that the very rich infrastructure and facilities that we have in the city are accessible to everyone.”
The committee’s first meeting will take place before the end of 2021 •