Editor’s picks: Melbourne Design Week 2020

Next month, Melbourne Design Week will return for its fourth year with over 300 events unfolding over Melbourne and greater Victoria.

In 2020, the program will focus on how design can shape life, with the line-up shaped around five themes: Healthy Cities, Design Cultures, Waterfront, Waste and Design Evolution. With a wide spectrum of talks, tours, workshops and exhibitions being presented across the week of 12 March to 22 March, Landscape Australia rounds up the top landscape-related events of the 2020 program.

A Royal Commission into the State of Australian Cities
Thursday 12 Mar, 6pm–7.15pm
NGV International Clemenger BBDO Auditorium

While Australian cities are ranked among the most liveable in the world, increasing evidence suggests they may be headed for crisis in coming decades without major structural shifts in policy, planning and governance. In the context of recent climate and biodiversity emergency declarations, infrastructure implementation failing to keep up with population growth and the unfolding crisis in the construction industry, is it time for a national Royal Commission into the state of Australian cities? Part theatre, part panel discussion, this hypothetical Royal Commission delves into the most pressing issues facing the planning of our cities.

Transformative Landscapes: Reshaping the City that Shapes Us
Thursday 19 Mar, 8.30am–1pm
NGV International Clemenger BBDO Auditorium
Cost: $40 Adult / $25 Student
The way we design and plan our cities, parks and places has profound effects on our health and well-being. In this symposium, design and health experts explore the role of landscape architecture, urban design and planning in making healthful urban environments. Guest speakers include Lily Jencks (Lily Jencks Studio), Paul Torzillo (Healthabitat), Claire Martin (Oculus), and Billie Giles-Corti (Healthy Liveable Cities Research Group, RMIT).

Greening Seawalls
Saturday 21 Mar, 10am–12pm
Meet at Federation Wharf, 15–19 Princes Walk, Melbourne
Cost: $10

Reef Design Lab has been working with Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) since 2015 on the Living Seawalls research project investigating how 3D printed geometry can be used to create habitat for native intertidal species that live on seawalls. This boat tour features a discussion with Alex Goad from Reef Design Lab and Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) researchers about the Living Seawalls Project and possibilities for Victoria’s waterways.

Hybrid Coastal Defence
Sunday 22 Mar, 10am–12pm
Altona, see Open House Melbourne for details

Explore the newly installed mangrove project at Altona Coastal Park, Grantville and Lang Lang. Reef Design Lab and Melbourne University’s National Centre for Coasts and Climate are investigating coastal defence by mass planting Victoria’s native southern mangrove species inside a specially designed planter. Exploring the use of natural habitats to reduce wave height and accumulate sand, custom designed mangrove planters have been integrated with direct planting of mangrove seeds. As the mangroves get bigger, they can reduce wave height and accumulate sediment themselves, protecting the foreshore from erosion.

The Western Treatment Plant Tour
Wednesday 18 Mar, 10am–7pm
Melbourne Water Discovery Centre, Lot 1, New Farm Rd, Werribee
The Western Treatment Plant sustainably treats half of Melbourne’s sewage, and is a thriving ecosystem with an internationally recognised bird habitat. Join us for a two hour bus tour at this place of historic, environmental and cultural significance. The size of Phillip Island, this Western Treatment Plant treats sewage using a series of large ponds, called lagoons — the largest of which can hold 600 million litres! Find out about the important and innovative work they do to enhance Melbourne’s liveability. Much more than a ‘poo farm’, the Western Treatment plant is a place of historic, environmental and cultural significance.

Finding the river: Living with water
Sunday 22 Mar, 2pm–3.30pm
Fishermans Bend, see Open House Melbourne for details
Explore Montague’s (Fishermans Bend) watery history and experience the challenge of finding the Yarra River on foot with Janet Bolitho – urbanist, storyteller and Fishermans Bend Development Board member – from Jane’s Walk. You’ll be invited to contemplate what living with water has meant in the past and what it might mean in the future. Jane’s Walk is an international citizen-led walking conversation inspired by urbanist Jane Jacobs. Jane’s Walks encourage people to share stories about places, discover unseen aspects of their communities, and use walking as a way to connect.

Forgotten ecologies of Birrarung
Saturday 14 Mar, 10am–1pm
154 Alexandra Ave, South Yarra
Cost: $35
Building on the success of the 2019 tour, Forgotten Ecologies of Birrarung is a bicycle journey curated by Melbourne Architours with Open House Melbourne. The tour commences in South Yarra opposite Herring Island, follows the capital city trail through the former Burnley Basalt Quarry and finishes in the west at the mouth of the Moonee Ponds Creek. From remnant vegetation and the blasted stone of the falls, to spaces where ecosystems survive away from the public eye, the journey is punctuated with a series of stops where designers and researchers share stories about the river’s former condition and explore how its past might inform its future regeneration.

Francesco Careri
Tue 17 Mar, 6pm–7pm
NGV International Clemenger BBDO Auditorium
Cost: $12
Francesco Careri is the author of the book Walkscapes: Walking as an Aesthetic Practice and co-founder of the participatory urban workshop Stalker/Osservatorio Nomade, a group of architects, artists, activists and researchers. Stalker use walking as a collective mode of expression and a tool for mapping the city and its changes. In this lecture, Careri will talk about his practice of collective walking and its capacity to generate architecture and landscape, and shape the meaning of spaces. Careri is an associate professor at the Department of Architecture of Roma Tre University, where he runs Civic Arts – a peripatetic laboratory grounded in the walking exploration of neglected urban areas.

Facing the water
Meet at MPavilion
Queen Victoria Gardens, St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Exhibition times: Friday 20 Mar and Saturday 21 Mar, 9–11am and 1–3pm
Using mobile urban interventions, sound and creative immersion this workshop engages the human, nonhuman, algorithmic and environmental convergences of the city to co-design a megagame that re-connects players across the Melbourne CBD with waterways. Players explore the relationship between water and urban environments using interactive mobile mapping technologies to reimagine the city and its inhabitants as a city of water. Join Troy Innocent, Anna Hickey-Moody, Fiona Hillary and Dan Green in a co-design exercise playfully and poetically reframing Melbourne’s relationship with water.

To browse the full programme of events, go here.

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