Urban Planning

Trendyville: The Battle for Australia's inner cities by Renate Howe, David Nichols, and Graeme Davison

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June-July 2015, no. 372

In the Melbourne suburb where I spent my childhood, a café was a place where ethnic men played cards and backgammon, puffed on cigarettes, and looked up from time to time to watch through the window the passing parade on the footpath outside. Now, when I return to Northcote, I am often served in hip cafés by boyish men with Ned Kelly beards and stylishly informal ...

Lifeboat Cities by Brendan Gleeson & Transport for Suburbia: by Paul Mees

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September 2010, no. 324

These two books share common assumptions about the nature of our cities and our collective future as homo urbanis. If we are to survive the impending disaster of climate change and build an environmentally durable and socially just future, then we must do so within our existing, sprawling suburban landscapes. Gleeson and Mees know and respect one another’s work – each quotes the other approvingly – but the two authors diverge sharply in tone and intention.

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Inner city residential areas of large Australian cities have, it is said, been transformed by a marauding band of the professional middle class. These people bought dwellings with ‘potential’, took up residence, and refurbished their houses back to their original state or into some dainty contemporary form. Such has been the demand placed upon this housing that a sharp escalation in house prices has resulted. Increasing costs associated with this rise have forced many old, long-term, working class residents – the traditional inner city occupants – out into distant suburbs. Thus, inner city residential areas are now dominated by the middle class.

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