Blueprint City

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

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.

Rob Adams: Urban Choreographer

While a city might be famous for the shape of its skyline or the height of its buildings, the life of a city is created and lived, for the most part, in the spaces between. Mitra Anderson-Oliver speaks with Director of City Design, Professor Rob Adams, to understand the forces that have shaped these spaces in Melbourne.

Inside the Public Loop: An interview with David Gianotten of OMA

David Gianotten is a partner in the Rem Koolhaas-founded global architecture and urbanism practice OMA, leading their large portfolio in the Asia-Pacific region. Quino Holland (co-Director of Assemble and its associated architecture company Fieldwork) caught up with David to discuss the role of architects in not only designing buildings but also the space between them.

Transitional Architecture in Christchurch

Our world is made better by those who throw caution to the wind to do what they love. Put a person like architect, urbanist and publisher Barnaby Bennett in the middle of a catastrophic natural disaster and what you get is an inspired revisioning of a city and what it means to belong.

Age of Enlightenment: cafe culture

Cafés have played an important role in the cultural enrichment of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities since their emergence from the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. Writer Anna Hickey explores the impact of the bean on the proliferation of culture: empires rise and fall and societies evolve, yet the essence of the coffee house – a space for social exchange – remains strong.

Cities for people: Jan Gehl

Jan Gehl, renowned Danish architect, urban design consultant and champion of the human scale, is a great believer in walking. “There is more to walking than walking”, he says, a point which Mitra Anderson-Oliver has cause to reflect on over the two days spent pursuing Jan on foot during his trip to Melbourne for an international study tour, during the hottest autumn week in Victoria’s history.

The pace of coexisting in NYC

During Mayor Bloomberg's 12-year tenure, bike infrastructure and commuting has skyrocketed, with over 480km of new bike lanes and in 2008-2012, a two-fold increase in cyclists. As Bloomberg's time in office draws to a close, writer and avid cyclist Arthur Holland Michel sends this dispatch from the streets of NY, a meditation on riding in a city divided by its love and loathing of bicycles.

Urban healthiness

In Australia and all over the world, obesity and chronic diseases are on the rise, posing a real and increasing threat to public health. At the same time, the world is rapidly urbanising – over half the world’s population now live in cities. The future is a world of greater urbanisation, yet poorer health. Alessandro Demaio considers how we can make cities centres for good, not bad, health.

Between earth and table: the markets of Barcelona

Describing the subject of her book "Hungry City", author/architect Carolyn Steele calls food "the eternal engine driving civilisation". Over its 2000 year history, Barcelona has become a city where the ancient and the contemporary coincide, its human ecology fuelled by its produce markets. Resident Rachel Michel explores the shifting place of markets in her adopted city, through its fat and lean times.

On breaking no law – Berlin by bicycle

What are the conditions for a thriving culture in our cities, by day and by night? Bicycles, walkability, public transport, density, opera? Urban designer and 'theatrist' Jana Perkovic argues that it's the sum of all these parts that makes cities liveable – the built environment and also our corresponding way of life. She dispatches this opinion piece while bicycling around Berlin by night.

Private vs. public: mega events, human rights and the London Olympics

The Olympics is all about gold and glory, right? Not for the citizens of the host cities of 'mega events'; life gets tougher as the race for medals begins. Writer and academic Henrietta Zeffert reports from London, a city and citizenry whose East End has been redesigned, transformed and polished in time for the Games – but at what cost to its civil liberties and human rights?

The Grumpy Optimist – an interview with Marcus Westbury

Marcus Westbury gets stuff done. As a broadcaster, media maker, writer and festival director, he is a long-time culture advocate, especially the unconventional, hard to define stuff. In recent times, Marcus has added “urbanist” to his mantle of influence. We talk cities and the initiative of culture-makers. This is urbanism in practice, Westbury-style.