Blueprint City

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

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.

Squishy Urbanity: Walking Melbourne with Rohan Storey

Rohan Storey knows Melbourne. With over 20 years experience as an architectural historian at the National Trust, Rohan now works as a heritage consultant, is vice-president of community lobby group Melbourne Heritage Action, and in his spare time shares detailed snapshots of the city on social media. Emma Breheny speaks to Rohan about the politics of preservation and what makes a 'liveable' city.

Urban-Think Tank: The Right to the City

As informal communities continue to house a major portion of the population in many economically diverse areas of Central and South America, Caracas- and Zurich-based interdisciplinary design studio Urban-Think Tank considers how architects can work alongside self-organised communities to help mobilise the collective agency of a population.

Unlearning Planning Practice: Libby Porter

As an associate professor at RMIT's Centre for Urban Studies, Libby Porter's work aims to position Aboriginal knowledge, people and culture at the heart of planning and urban development. Timmah Ball sits down with Libby to speak about how planning systems and environmental policies can incorporate Aboriginal knowledge, and how cultural ecologies can exist within rigid planning schemes and legislation.

Shuffle: Bridging Borders in Mile End, London

How do you ensure that a radical new housing development maintains strong, ongoing links with its community? Emma Breheny speaks to Kate MacTiernan of Shuffle Festival, which aims to involve the local community in a rapidly changing environment in London's Mile End.

De Ceuvel: from concept to community

In Amsterdam, second-hand houseboats are practically free – no one wants them. Katherine Sundermann speaks to space&matter’s Sascha Glasl, whose collaborative De Ceuvel project has transformed a former shipyard in Amsterdam’s north into a sustainable cultural community.

Last stone left: wellbeing and Aboriginal placemaking in the city

Melbourne is home to the Wurundjeri and Boonerwrung peoples of the Kulin nation, who have cared for this landscape for thousands of years. Timmah Ball reflects on cities as sites of cultural significance, in which contemporary and traditional Aboriginal knowledge combine to promote space for greater wellbeing, revealing the underlying ecology of our city.

Narrative cities

The speed at which we travel determines how much we can absorb. When travelling by car, buildings loom in and out of focus. Walk along a city street however, and the finer-grain detail is observed: cracks in the footpath, billboard slogans, urban animal life. Urban planner Jeremy Gill takes us on a journey at the speed at which the minutiae of the city is best observed – walking pace.

City Limits: interview with Paul Donegan

Cities amplify opportunity. In comparison to, say, life in a village, they offer greater opportunities for employment, for social connection and for exchanges of culture and experience. Maitiú Ward speaks to Paul Donegan, co-author (with Jane-Frances Kelly) of City Limits, a new book exploring the growing divide between our places of work and residence, our cities and suburbs – the good, the bad and the ugly, of Australian cities.

Remember Me: architecture, placemaking and Aboriginal identity

Timmah Ball combines her passion for creating place and urban planning with a deep pride in her Ballardong Noongar heritage. For National Reconciliation Week, she explores Aboriginal identity in Australian architecture and civic spaces, with a particular focus on 'Portrait' – the intensely debated ARM Architecture-designed apartments in Melbourne's CBD.

Cities for citizens: Lucinda Hartley

After working in the slums of Vietnam and Cambodia, Lucinda Hartley returned to Melbourne hungry to continue collaborative, community-driven approaches to design. In 2010, she co-founded CoDesign Studio, a cross-disciplinary design and placemaking social enterprise based in Collingwood, Melbourne.