Stories

Blueprint City

Practical and lateral food for thought on urban design, from the physical built environment through to the psychological space of cities.

Lived Solidarity: Housing Co-operatives

Housing co-operatives offer a way to pursue quality of life at an affordable price: even the United Nations considers them a necessary approach to address global housing challenges. But what is a housing co-operative? Manuel Lutz tells us how co-operatives came to exist in the German-speaking Europe, how they operate in contemporary world, and what lessons they can offer us.

Informal Settlements: Never Just a ‘Slum’

Ishita Chatterjee is an architect who researches informal settlements. We call them 'slums' and think we know them. But what are they, really? And, most importantly, what  are the lessons we can learn from them? In these notes from her fieldwork in India, Ishita explains how an informal settlement is made.

Sarajevo: In Times of Now

Twenty years after the war, Sarajevo is becoming a city of peace. A generation of young creatives, entrepreneurs and artists is bringing in an optimism and an international outlook. Long enchanted by this city, Melbourne writer Ennis Ćehić has returned to the capital of his native country to find the Sarajevo of now.

Holzmarkt: How ‘Business Hippies’ Reinvented Berlin

The development of Holzmarkt has shown that Berlin is capable of both imagining and creating places of social cooperation. Once organisers of illegal raves, a group of friends are now building a whole new district; and with it, reimagining the city's future.

Redesigning Renting: Housing as a Service

Sharing economy increasingly means that we subscribe to a service (transport, music, even clothes and cars) instead of buying the thing. But how does this work with housing? Alexis Kalagas continues his research into start-ups that are redesigning renting.

Nurturing Collective Creativity: Naomi Milgrom

Melbourne may be Australia's arts capital, but Naomi Milgrom is now pushing it to the forefront of Australia’s design conversation. Jana Perković speaks to the woman behind MPavilion and Living Cities Forum about the importance of dialogue and disagreement.

Playable Cities: Hilary O’Shaughnessy

Cities around the world are rapidly growing a new layer of digital infrastructure. But who, outside of the few data engineers, knows what information is being collected and to what purpose? This is something Hilary O'Shaughnessy wants to change. Her project Playable Cities aims to restore agency and creativity to the 'smart city' - and includes dancing under street lights.

How Finland is Ending Homelessness: Juha Kaakinen

In the 1980s, Finland's homeless rates were equivalent to Australia's today: 0.4%. Today, homelessness is all but eradicated, thanks to an innovative approach called 'Housing First'. Juha Kaakinen, CEO of Y-Foundation, Finland's largest non-profit housing provider, explains to Cat McGauran how the Finnish approach arose from the belief that 'everybody should be cared for'.

Amsterdam Social Housing: A Primer

The residential variety across Amsterdam city is stunning. Some rents are high, but many more are controlled, kept affordable by non-profit associations that deliver the bulk of housing in the Netherlands. From the expressive brickwork of early 20th-century workers’ dwellings to a new generation of refugee-inclusive youth housing, Amelyn Ng explores the system of affordable housing allocation in Amsterdam.

Saskia Sassen: The Limits of the Material

Prof Saskia Sassen spent her career researching the processes underpinning globalisation. Her early work described the rise of the new class of high-paid consultants, concentrating in a few 'global cities' and displacing ordinary families. Lately, she has turned her attention to the global housing boom. How have buildings become a speculative asset class? In conversation with Jana Perković, she explains what has happened since the Global Financial Crisis.

The Great Disruption: Proptech & ‘Generation Rent’

Move over, Airbnb: here comes 'proptech'. The new generation of apps goes beyond the dubiously-named 'sharing economy' to affect real estate in far more complex ways, from virtual bond deposits to micro-investing. Alexis Kalagas reports from London, where proptech is booming - together with the property market.

Of Night and Noise: Music’s New Politics

Night is a time, not a space, but in cities around the world it is more and more viewed as a territory, with its own inhabitants, customs and forms of belonging. As new residents are attracted to the vibrancy of city life, noise complaints are on the increase - and so are the regulations. Will Straw, professor of urban cultures at McGill University, explores nighttime cultures in cities around the world.

Bakehouse Studios: Culture Is What We Do When We’re Really Living

For nearly twenty years, Helen Marcou and Quincy McLean had been supporting Melbourne's musicians and artists through Bakehouse Studios. Then in 2010 their beloved live music community came under threat, and their position at Bakehouse unexpectedly primed them for political activism - work that continues today.

Designing Club Culture: Don’t Fight It, Feel It

Born in the 1960s, discothéques were early incubators of experimentation in design, new media and ways of living. From fashion trends to regulations around noise, alcohol and propriety, what resonates above all is how nightlife shapes wider urban life. Alexis Kalagas charts a wonderful and colourful history of nightclubbing.

Reimagining the Gaybourhood

As a number of Melbourne's prominent gay venues started to close down, Sam Cremean felt a sense of loss. This prompted him to investigate what was happening to gay neighbourhoods internationally. He discovered that these important spaces were slowly disappearing from cities around the world.

Kids’ City Copenhagen

A combination of people-centric urban design, progressive parental leave policies and heavily subsised childcare is making it easy for families to stay in Copenhagen, rather than head for the suburbs. It is in this context that Kids' City Copenhagen was designed. Janie Green speaks with COBE founder & director Dan Stubbergaard, about the philosophy behind Kids' City.

Sound Diplomacy: The Social Value of Music

Sound Diplomacy helps city governments worldwide build 'music cities'. When we listen to music we tap into a universal form of communication that transcends language. Sound Diplomacy's Shain Shapiro speaks to Cat McGauran about why good policy must enable music to be played, listened to and enjoyed in cities.

From URL to IRL

Let's not get so caught up in the promises of 'smart cities' to forget that we live material lives. In the latest instalment in a series of articles from our West Coast partners 'Future West' (Australian Urbanism), Dr Sarah Barns, research fellow in the Institute for Culture and Society, considers putting digital to work in shaping great places.

Mimi Zeiger: Radical Hope

Critic, curator, editor and provocateur Mimi Zeiger has written three books on tiny houses. Now, she turns to utopia: how do speculative fictions and futurisms drive architecture? Her hometown of Los Angeles is a case in point, a depository of radical dreams, be it Afro-Futurism or a promise of downtown walkability.

Google Urbanism

Emerging technologies, data collection and the fraught relationship between apps that improve our lives yet increasingly encroach on our right to privacy. Our New York-based correspondent Janie Green talks to architect and co-designer of the GoogleUrbanism project, Nicolay Boyadjiev, about the potential for negotiating an alternative future.

Co-op City: Zürich’s experiment with non-profit housing

Alexis Kalagas surveys the ebbs and flows of Zurich's co-operative housing movement. From the seminal Kraftwerk1 development in the early 2000s, via Mehr als Wohnen ('more than living') project, to Kalkbreite, completed just three years ago – what can we glean from Switzerland's extended experimentation with the co-operative model?

The Scale of the Museum

What will the museum of the future be like? Senior curator at ACCA Annika Kristensen considers the meaning of 'civic' architecture and how an institution might contribute to the public good. It's the latest in our series of articles from Future West – a West Coast publication rethinking the future of urbanism through Western Australia.

Dan Hill: Tactile Cities

From designing the first podcasts to designing cities, from Monocle to Arup, for more than a decade Dan Hill has been at the forefront of digital technologies and their influence in shaping our everyday living. His work escapes definition, but let's try: Dan Hill gives urban planners and architects words, to help them imagine a better future.

Mirror Sydney: Memorial Stores

Artist, essayist and DIY map-maker Vanessa Berry takes us on an alternative tour of Sydney's lost and abandoned places in her blog, Mirror Sydney. Here, against the backdrop of a rapidly transforming urbanism, we bring you an excerpt from her new book of the same name – a timely meditation on place and time propelled by childhood memories and urban wanderings.