at The Wheeler CentreBooked out

Self-Made City

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 will be joined by a panel of guests, including Mimi Zeiger, Millie Cattlin and Lucinda Hartley, 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?

Presented in partnership with Open House Melbourne.


Portrait of Sara Savage

Sara Savage

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.

Portrait of Millie Cattlin

Millie Cattlin

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.  

Portrait of Lucinda Hartley

Lucinda Hartley

Lucinda Hartley is an urban designer and social entrepreneur who has spent the past decade pioneering disruptive approaches to revitalising cities and towns that have now been implemented across Australia. 

After spending two years working with slum communities in south-east Asia, she co-founded CoDesign Studio, a social enterprise that uses creative placemaking to improve social connection in local neighbourhoods. Five years later, CoDesign has delivered more than 50 urban renewal projects involving over 10,000 local citizens, and recently launched Australia’s largest placemaking program: the Neighbourhood Project, backed by the Myer Foundation and Resilient Melbourne (part of the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities program).

Portrait of Mimi Zeiger

Mimi Zeiger

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.

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