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Melbourne - A revitalised city centre

I spoke to an industrial designer at City of Melbourne about his work over the last 25 years to revitalise Melbourne's city centre. Melbourne's CBD has been transformed from a city with almost no residents to a liveable and thriving place.

Photo of Charlotte Fliegner
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The redevelopment of the central city of Melbourne has been applauded for improving the liveability of the city by increasing the residential population and the demand for retail service. The program was successful at increasing the number of residential units in the Central Business District from 736 in 1992 to 9,895 in 2002 to now a population of 96,500 residents in 2010.

This was achieved through the creation of an urban design programme called Postcode 3000 which provided incentives for people to move into the city centre. The objective was to create a safe city which will appeal to a wide range of people and functions, as back in '92 there was an oversupply of office space and not much else. The city achieved this through many initiatives including: cleaning up the streets, better lighting, active frontages through mixed use development, developing lively public places. Night time activity was introduced to get more people out on the streets during the evening, such as encouraging shops to stay open later. Uses and users were diversified through introducing a range of retail and activities which are easily accessible to a range of people - for example, there is good quality food available at low, medium and high costs. The city also worked with universities to encourage the large international student population to live in the city, bringing their cultural diversity and activity onto the streets which is today enjoyed by everyone. More recently, there has been a programme to transform the city's back laneways - once abandoned, now hubs of cafes and boutiques - through public art programmes. 

At first, there were very few people willing to live in the CBD because it was deemed unsafe and uninviting in comparison to the suburbs, today there is a demand for residential apartments in the central city.


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Melbourne is one of the most liveable cities I've visited, and even the CBD was so vibrant. I love the laneways, the beautiful decorated restaurants and coffe shops. I am surprised that it hasn't "always" been like this. Very good example of how to succesfully redevelop a part of a city.

Photo of Charlotte Fliegner

Glad to hear !! Melbourne was this year voted #1 most liveable city, but I think that (like Detroit), we share problems of urban sprawl and a lack of density which makes accessibility hard. Interestingly enough, your inspiration Velib Paris has been implemented in Melbourne and the numbers show it failing - for a few reasons (eg, helmets are compulsory, and our streets and drivers arent as bike friendly as Europe's), but also because we are sprawling as a city.

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Good point on the city bikes. It makes sense that in sprawling cities it won't have the same effect as in more dense cities like Paris. Also it is not very handy having your helmet with you all day - it works against the whole city bike idea as "quick and easy whenever you need it".

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