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Professor Adams is allowed to speak

31 May 2011

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By Shane Scanlan

Docklanders attending last month’s “D2” consultations got a rare first-hand glimpse into the thinking of Professor Rob Adams who is possibly the person with the most influence over the future of Docklands.

Prof. Adams is the City of Melbourne’s city design director and is internationally renowned and acknowledged for revitalising the CBD over the past couple of decades.

The council won’t allow Prof. Adams to speak with Docklands News about his views on our suburb.  But, with the City of Melbourne playing an increasingly significant role in the future urban design of Docklands, Prof Adams is already setting the agenda.

The state’s development authority VicUrban is more comfortable these days to take a back-seat in many of the joint discussions about the future of Docklands, as it recognises that the council will ultimately inherit the area.

In introducing the consultation with the community at the Hub on May 11, Prof. Adams spoke freely on many aspects of the Docklands of the future.

Significantly, he sees his task as integrating Docklands with the rest of the city.

He posed the question: “How will we know when Docklands is truly a part of Melbourne?” And then went on the answer: “When you’re not conscious about moving from one part of the city to the next – when it’s just another part of the city.”

“That’s when Docklands will have arrived,” he said.

“That’s not going to happen in the next decade.  Cities don’t change that quickly.  But it will happen eventually and there will be a seamless transition from one part of the city to the next.”

He then went through a series of topics that the council wanted to consult on.

“Not only will you have the new experience of the water and water-based activities, but there are other experiences that you will expect to find in Docklands.”

“There will be some more intimate experiences and activities over and above the general ‘eight-to-five’ business and residential offerings.  There will be recreation and leisure activities as well.”

“Docklands is the place we want people to come and visit as an interesting and exciting place.  Not because there is some event is on here, but because the actual life that occurs here is something they are attracted to.”

In answer to a question about the lack of open space in Docklands, Prof. Adams replied that Docklands had more open space than most places.

He said most cities had 60 per cent buildings and 40 per cent public realm.

“Here it is almost the opposite,” he said.  “Our challenge here is to look at the spaces we’ve got and reconfigure them.”

“There’s too much of the same sort of space.  There’s too much 30 metre wide waterfront and not enough of some other sort of spaces, such as where you can kick a football.”

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