Masterplanning, safe and sustainable design, and tighter building regulation are needed if Melbourne is to remain one of the world’s most liveable cities, according to the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.
After seven years in the top spot, Melbourne this year dropped to number two in The Economist’s sought-after world’s most liveable city rankings, outdone by Vienna. The two cities were separated by 0.7 of a per cent in the rankings, with Vienna scoring 99.1 out of 100 and Melbourne 98.4.
President of the Institute’s Victorian Chapter Amy Muir said increasing urban sprawl and poorly designed apartment buildings flooding the city would have undoubtedly impacted its liveability ranking.
With the Victorian state election set for 24 November, 2018, Ms Muir said it was vital for all sides of politics to pay attention to Melbourne’s sustainable growth, as the city prepares for its population to overtake Sydney by the middle of the century.
‘As Melbourne’s population continues to skyrocket there needs to be greater focus on future-proofing the city through planning and ensuring a high-quality and sustainable built environment. The delivery of enduring, quality design is integral to maintaining the city’s liveability,’ Ms Muir said.
‘The value of masterplanning cannot be underestimated when acknowledging the liveability and performance of our cities. Building sustainable communities is integral for the effective evolution of place. This is achieved through careful masterplanning, consultation, collaboration with landscape architects and planners and adopting rigorous design review processes.
‘Our government, no matter what political persuasion, must ensure the Office of the Victorian Government Architect has ongoing funding to ensure it maintains a position of authority, and adequate resourcing to provide strategic design advocacy and advice.
‘There needs to be a focus on design-led long-term outcomes and there needs to be a concerted effort by government to support the architectural profession. As it stands, the design of multi-storey buildings remains unregulated as there is no requirement for a registered architect to be engaged in the process.
‘Victoria’s building standards need to fall into line with emerging best practice in other jurisdictions to improve safety and amenity and this means requiring the involvement of a registered architect for all apartment buildings three storeys and above, clamping down on inadequate building supervision, and putting an end to the practice of product substitution or short-term profits.’
Ruth White, Executive Director of the Victorian Chapter, said there needed to be a well-planned focus on Melbourne’s growth, which was currently lacking, and a mandate for design-led development.
‘There is a perception that “design” correlates with “expensive”, and this is not the case. The essence of architecture is designing high-quality, sustainable buildings no matter what the cost,’ Ms White said.
‘The drop in our liveability ranking should be a call to action and we can’t take for granted that things will continue as they have – we need to work hard to make sure Melbourne remains a vibrant and liveable city.
‘As our population continues to boom we need to adopt proactive, creative and sustainable solutions to deal with it. Melbourne is a beautiful city and we need to ensure it stays that way.’