The Davis Langdon director of urban planning is determined to deal with Melbourne’s population explosion
How far up are you?
I am looking out of my window in our office on the 19th floor at 350 Queen Street in Melbourne.
Describe your view?
I see an eclectic mix of buildings ranging from the modern Leggo-like Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University design to the dome of our Royal Exhibition building which was classified by UNESCSO on World Heritage list in 2004 and then even further to the Dandenong Ranges.
The panoramic view also shows the single storey galvanised rooftops of the Queen Victoria market which look like a sprawl of single storey galvanised rooftops with ’Queen Victoria Market’ carefully spelt out. An initial view of the market may lead any aspiring developer to see this site as a likely source for future development but the combination of heritage controls and that any excavation would impact on the site of one of the first graveyards in Melbourne make it an unlikely future development site.
Tell us about the city?
Compared to London, Melbourne has a population of approximately 3.8 million and is projected to reach nearly 7.9 million by 2056.This is viewed as a population explosion and seen as putting a massive strain on existing infrastructure. It has also been greeted with alarm as the ’liveability’ of Melbourne is seeming to be threatened.
What are we currently doing about the spread of Melbourne? Well we are working on a containment policy. The term ’urban growth boundary’ is being used here and means that an arbitrary line has been drawn whereby any type of growth other than farming is vetoed outside the boundary.
Needless to say when this came in under the banner of the Melbourne 2030 policy there were a number of farmers who became instant millionaires not just by being within the arbitrary Marginot line but also because their land abutted this line and developers predicted movement in the future.
Looking out the window I see one of our shopping centres housing our version of the underground loop. As opposed to the loop in London or Tokyo we have five train stations in the loop – much simpler than overseas experience.
Our city also appears to be facing a public transport crisis with the privatised train system bursting at the seams. Whilst no one has suggested this we may need the type of assistance afforded to the train goers in Tokyo where rail staff assist in cramming passengers on each train to ensure maximum capacity. I am sure train commuters think it already feels like this.
The price increases in petrol which has been a world wide phenomena has also exacerbated the attractiveness of public transport. Personally my local bus has always been an attractive option and given I live approximately 4km from the city there always seems to be seats available. We call it the community bus. Post 10.00am in the morning the average age of the bus goers is 70-plus!
What are you working on?
It always seems to be sign of a healthy sign of an economy to see cranes on the skyline and from every view in our hexgonally shaped building we see cranes stalking the skyline. The recession that is constantly discussed appears in the short-term not to have made an impact on the Davis Langdon order books here.
The skyline shows a relatively low rise city with our highest tower being the Eureka Tower at 300m or 92 stories.
We have no ’gherkin’ on the horizon but we do have a version of the London Eye in our Docklands area. ING thought it important enough that we have our own eye in Melbourne and christened it the Southern Cross.
The wheel is not operational as yet but will be 120m tall and feature 21 enclosed air conditioned glass cabinets. Heating rather than air-conditioning is required in our Docklands area though. The wheel will also feature a world first – a 3.7m LED lighting system providing displays at night.
Yes we too have a Docklands area and it is made up of 200ha of land and water with 7km of waterfront. It is an evolving area and has recently been mooted to have caught the attention of Zaha Haddad who is working on a development in one of its precincts.
As an evolving city I still consider it Marvellous Melbourne!
Maureen Jackson is director of urban planning at Davis Langdon in Melbourne, Australia.
Do you have an interesting office view? Send a picture and a description of what you see from your window, what’s on your desk, the scheme you’re working on, and your favourite all-time view to email@example.com.