Stories

Blueprint City

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

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.

Carolyn Whitzman: The Meaning of Consensus

Being able to work across our differences is crucial if we are to solve the housing crisis in Melbourne, says urban planning professor Carolyn Whitzman, of University of Melbourne. Whitzman's background in activism now underpins her work on solving Melbourne's housing crisis: she describes her research as trying to make social change happen through experiments in deliberative democracy.

Life in a Glass House: Social Media and the Architecture of Looking

In an era in which digital technologies are transforming social interactions, Ishita Chatterjee draws parallels between the habitual unveiling of our daily life via the virtual realm and the revealing qualities of the architectural 'glass house', in this week's reflection on privacy in an ever-more public realm.

Rethinking the High-Rise Life

How many gyms does a neighbourhood need? Thirty-five, if you go by the results of some recent urban renewal programs. Amelyn Ng compares Melbourne to Singapore and New York, examining the unintended consequences of building high-rise buildings close together, without planning for the civic dimension of architecture.

There’s a city in my mind

A temporary festival in the Nevada desert is a model for innovation in tourism – and more, says Melbourne-based researcher in Public Cultures, Bree Trevena. It’s the latest instalment in our series of articles shared from ‘Future West', a West Coast publication considering the future of urbanism through Western Australia.

What’s in a Map? Greening Bourj Al Shamali

The Greening Bourj Al Shamali initiative aims to green and improve the living conditions in the Bourj Al Shamali refugee camp in Lebanon, a theoretically temporary Palestinian refugee camp that's now a 60-year-old informal urban environment, densely built and without green spaces. Sara Savage speaks to the team behind the initiative about 'balloon mapping' the camp in the name of self-determination.

Owner Occupied

Berlin-based architect Kristien Ring speaks with Geoffrey London about the German phenomenon of apartment-building design and development driven by citizens. It's the latest instalment in our series of articles shared from 'Future West (Australian Urbanism)', a new print publication considering the future of urbanism through Perth and Western Australia.

Come Together

If urban planners, developers and local citizens engage on driving density in Perth, they might just find there's a lot of common ground, says urbanist Nic Temov in this article from Issue Two of 'Future West (Australian Urbanism)' – a new print publication considering the future of urbanism through the lens of Perth and Western Australia.

From Berlin to Melbourne: Residents Shaping their Cities

More apartments are currently constructed in Melbourne than detached houses – but how can we account for their quality? Using the ‘Baugruppen’ of Berlin as inspiration, Katherine Sundermann considers a paradigm shift towards involving residents in the development of their homes, adding prospects of affordability, quality and self-expression to future multi-residential projects.