Shaping our City | Utilisation of Space

Arup hosted its latest forum around the future of Melbourne – focusing on our urban environment, building strong communities and transforming the city of a sustainable future.

The forum, Shaping our City: Utilisation of Space was held on Thursday, 27 February at The Immigration Museum with a stellar panel moderated by Narelle Hooper, former editor of Australian Financial Review’s BOSS magazine.


  • Professor Rob Adams AM, Director City Design, City of Melbourne
  • Kate Dundas, Senior Landscape Architect & Urban Designer, Planisphere
  • Kylie Legge, Director, Place Partners who focused on learning from the best spaces in Australia which Kylie argues is the beach
  • Phil Carter, Urban and Transport Planner, Arup who focused on the potential impact of autonomous vehicles on our city

The panel were both passionate and realistic in their views on how Melbourne could evolve, particularly with Melbourne’s urban population set to double by 2060.

“Our urban fringes are failing as the true costs of living on the fringe are not fully factored in. By combining future development with existing infrastructure we can cater for predicted growth by by better utilizing as little as 7.5% of the existing Metro area and giving it a new life. ”
Professor Rob Adams

Addressing growth entails much more than just space with Kate Dundas, one of the founders of the 3000 Acres project, suggesting that we are disconnected from our food supply and need to use our available land for more productive purposes.

“There is no planning or protection for our future food supplies, however there is an acknowledged need for Victorians to eat more fruit and vegetables. Why not repurpose Melbourne’s many under utilised spaces for urban food supply and reconnect the community with their food?”
Kate Dundas

From food supplies to public spaces, Kylie Legge suggested that the beach offers the perfect exemplar to inspire more magnetic people places and inspiration for the future of urban Melbourne.

“Designers need to ask themselves, ‘would you go there?’ If not then we need to think about the places that people most like to spend time and try to emulate their characteristics in our new spaces. Empty public space is bad for everyone, if nothing else, the best invitation for people to use a space to provide them with somewhere to put their bottom”
Kylie Legge

Technology was also on the agenda, with new Autonomous Vehicle technology set to change the way we move and potentially engage with public spaces.

“Autonomous Vehicles are expected to be publically available from 2018 in parts of the US. With potential to significantly impact how we travel and interact with our cities, discussion is required to fully understand the implications of this impending technology.”
Phil Carter

By the end of the conversation it was clear that public and planning policy needs to better reflect the needs of a growing Melbourne and how the city could better use the space available to foster stronger, more resilient and healthier communities.