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Melbourne: A Liveable City?
Citizen #381277

Our dear friend Terry Lane takes a short and somewhat uneducated view of Melbourne's status as 'The World's Most Liveable City', here.

In his article, he describes the 'squalid nature' of Swanston St, and in particular, the Manchester Unity Building. From this, Lane attacks the appearance of the CDB describing the main blocks from Russell to Elizabeth and Flinders to Latrobe as squalid. Continuing this theme, Lane's assessment of the CBD as looking Third World in character is somewhat misplaced. What we see here (in my humble opinion) is Melbourne in winter. The streets act as wind tunnels (especially Elizabeth) and this forces most sensible people to seek alternative routes through the city. The 'squalid' appearance of many buildings, and Lane's condemnation of them isn't entirely justified either. There are numerous reasons as to why they're not kept in tip top condition, none of which I care to list, as it is getting late.

Quite frankly, Mr Lane whines a little too much, the Manchester Unity Building is quite beautiful:

Finally, Lane is sort of vindicated by indicating that Melbourne is no longer deserving of 'the most liveable city' title. Lane notes that the two top most liveable cities (Zurich and Vancouver) have no heritage listed buildings, which raises the question; can a city maintain a delightful (for lack of a better word) appearance, while satisfying its residents and visitors.

Tomorrow I'll think up an answer to that, but now I'm tired, so I'll leave that to you guys to ponder

-Tom (tired)

Thanks to Anthony Malloy for use of his pic of the Man Unity Blding (www.anthonymalloy.com)

Planning 6th July, 2004 23:37:47   [#] 

Comments

Melbourne is a great city
Melbourne has some great buildings, my favorites include the Town Hall, 333 Collins, 1 Collins, the Parliament Buildings, Treasury, Flinders St Station, the Art Centre, Fed Square.

There are also lots of warm alleys and arcade, where you can wander through to escape the cold (eg. Degraves, Block Arcade). Hardware Lane usually has heaters on poles to keep the diners warm.

Compared to Sydney, Melbourne is much better to navigate one's way around.
BridgeGirl  7th July, 2004 17:19:16  

Agreed
It's ironic that piece carrying the word 'perspective' can have so little of it. The Royal Exhibition Building is on the heritage register for historic reasons - not for any particular merit - as Lane well knows. It is (one of?) the last remaining buildings that was used for the Exhibitions of the 19th century. It is not as impressive as the Crystal Palace to be sure, but unlike the Palace, it is still standing.

He is correct that a heritage listing is a liability for a building, but he proffers no solutions, either by finding a better way to protect heritage or to pay for the upkeep of existing buildings. And it makes no difference at all for new buildings.

Manchester Unity is an interesting case of this. Part of its grace was that it was built to a limit of 132 feet - for fire reasons - that would have been better had it stayed. The wind-tunnels Tom speaks of for a start. But it is the high-water mark for its time, as many other buildings in Melbourne are. It is not a point of comparison with the dregs. But nor is it a 'work of art'. Work of arts aren't built in two months (May 16th - July 29th), with cladding to hide the concrete shell.

And then there was his comments on the 'most liveable city' tag. One, who cares? Really. Two, if he'd looked up the results he'd know two things: that Melbourne is now ranked 12th, and is hence improving - no story there perhaps - and second, that the survery is for rating the liveability for ex-pat businessmen to ascertain living allowances. It mentions such oddities as 'banking services' and 'ease of entry/exit' but - implication to the contrary - makes no mention of parks, urban design and buildings. In short, while the delusions of Melbourne's politicians are amusing, Lane's comment that the centre of Melbourne is like the 'third world' is plain stupid. And if he wants to see a point of comparison, can I recommend the filmclip to "It's a Long Way to the Top", because Swanston St. has come a long way since then.
Russ  9th July, 2004 01:30:49  

Flinders Street? Hmm
Bridgegirl, I'm not too sure about the ol' Flinders St being beautiful. But you know what they say about the eye of the beholder and such..Quite frankly, I'm not a big fan of Flinders St in its current form. Maybe it's the calf shit yellow colour scheme or the dirt hanging from the walls, but I''m really not a fan. Although it has been updated recently, the new area is still visually lacking. The space isn't used and creates a feeling of loneliness, even in peak hour. Alone in a sea of madness was never a more apt term to describe walking through Flinders St at peak hour. Of course, I'm opening up many other questions about public spaces, especially stations...so many questions...so little sleep.
J.C. Thomas Anderson  13th July, 2004 20:43:02  

Lonely stations
I always found Flinders St station to be a hustle bustle place - never lonely. I find the yellow rather cheerful and the new bathroom tiles near the turnstiles an attempt at cleanliness. Perhaps I am looking through rose-coloured glasses. Will reasses next time I visit.
BridgeGirl  14th July, 2004 16:17:21  

Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne!
Ah Melbourne, lovely in all its facets. Why does such a beautiful city come under such scrutiny? I agree that it is beautiful, and contains heritage features, that other cities around the world have failed to maintain (eg's mentioned in article). There are some areas that need working on... but that's the beauty of city life, as all areas have their own story to tell- be that in any city in the world! There are the up-market parts, and the shabby parts, but that's an inevitable expectation.

It has come to my realisation that local council planning merely deals with the aesthetics of the municipalities they are working for, but shouldn't core public issues be dealt with? Sure, we can pour millions of dollars into beautifying the city- but that is only one aspect of their responsibility. Let's work with the state government in achieving other community goals, like the provision of hostels and community centre upgrades. Humanitarian service has gone out the window, and is being replaced with recreation, which is good to an extent, but local to me means "grass roots", and is where all the action is.

Planning policy itself should become more anthropocentric and humanised, rather than dollar-bill-related policy. There's plenty of money to go around, let's use it wisely, and then perhaps the level of complaints from civilians may actually decrease. Planning IS a service after all, NOT a business, and coordinating a town should take on a more human view... now I know I'm slightly off topic here, but cities in general are prime examples of areas that contain a mixed society in terms of socio-economic status, so more needs to be done in order to cater for our mixed society's needs!
People Planner  1st August, 2004 13:24:49  

Add-on
In addition to what I said before, to make Melbourne the "most livable city" will mean doing the sorts of things that I mentioned!
People Planner  1st August, 2004 14:23:06  


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