The Wheeler Centre
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In 1961, autodidact urbanologist Jane Jacobs forever changed how we understood our cities. ‘Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody,’ she wrote in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, ‘only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.’
More than half a century later, her then-contentious argument – that the real life of a city emerges from the ground up – is a widely accepted wisdom.
Even so, in Melbourne and elsewhere, top-heavy developments are struggling to address urban planning problems like long-term homelessness, under-utilisation of public space and the socioeconomic fracturing of inner-city communities.
However, there are citizens, architects, artists and planners are working to change that. Whether it’s ‘tiny houses’, radically accessible public art spaces or ‘tactical urbanism’, there’s a growing movement devoted to exploring how low-cost, playful, and often impermanent forms of living can improve the lives of city-dwellers in meaningful ways.
RRR broadcaster and former editor of small footprint living bible Assemble Papers Sara Savage is joined by a panel of guests, including Mimi Zeiger, Millie Cattlin and Jessica Christiansen-Franks, for a discussion of engaged, practical city-making with a sense of play.
(Self-Made City is part of the Open House Melbourne program: What Would Jane Do?, and presented in partnership with Open House Melbourne.)
Sara Savage is a writer, editor and broadcaster based in Melbourne, where she hosts the weekly radio show Parallel Lines on Triple R, covering arts, culture, design and science. She is the former editor of Assemble Papers, a biannual print and weekly online publication exploring small footprint living across art, design, architecture, urbanism, the environment and finance.
Mimi Zeiger is a Los Angeles-based critic, editor, and curator. Her work is situated at the intersection architecture and media cultures.
She has covered art, architecture, urbanism, and design for a number of publications including the New York Times, Domus, Architectural Review, and Architect, where she is a contributing editor. She is a regular opinion columnist for Dezeen and former West Coast Editor of the Architects Newspaper. Zeiger is the 2015 recipient of the Bradford Williams Medal for excellence in writing about landscape architecture.
Millie Cattlin, Melbourne-based architect, is co-director of These Are The Projects We Do Together, a practice she runs with her partner, Joseph Norster. The practice is committed to developing experimental ideas in the fields of art, architecture and education through the design and ongoing operation of three key projects – Testing Grounds, Siteworks and The Quarry. The team, lead by Millie and Joe, has a hands-on approach with a generous and caring attitude towards community, physical infrastructure, local context and the public more broadly.
Jessica Christiansen-Franks is an urban designer and social entrepreneur who has dedicated her career to understanding the social dynamics of urbanisation. With experience across Australia, as well as the UK, Canada, India, Vietnam and the Philippines, Jessica has been fortunate enough to advise the public and private sectors, along with major international aid agencies.
Jessica is a programme advisor at CoDesign Studio, helping to steer Australia’s largest community-led placemaking initiative: the Neighbourhood Project. She is also co-founder and CEO of Neighbourlytics, a social analytics platform for neighbourhood development.