Category Archives: Life in Melbourne

Report: ‘Why do we need social mix?’

Abdullahi Jama and Kate Shaw: ‘Why do we need social mix?’ An analysis of an Australian inner-city public housing estate redevelopment

Available at : http://www.smh.com.au/cqstatic/gwsjcu/JamaAndShawReport.pdf

If not longer available, try here:   JamaAndShawReport

Newspapers often use an academic or commissioned report as the basis of an article. I often think “I wonder if that report is available?” but then forget to follow it up. However, today I’m making a mid-year resolution to do so more often – a resolution that will no doubt suffer the same fate as the rest of my resolutions.

Since the horrific Grenfell fire, I find myself looking at brightly-coloured high-rise towers differently. Here in Heidelberg, a gigantic glowing copper high-rise is materializing on top of one of the highest landmarks in Melbourne, while there are plans for a high-rise on stilts to front the entrance into Ivanhoe. These are for the private market. Meanwhile  this morning, the Age published an article pertaining to the State Government’s plans to redevelop former public housing walk-ups with a mixture of public/private housing with higher density. According to the government, there will be no loss in the number of public housing units, and the public-housing residents will benefit from the influx of private buyers “to foster an integrated community”.

In the end, however, there’s no getting away from the fact that land for public housing is being turned over to developers for private profit.   Several public housing estates are in very enviable positions, close to all facilities and public transport, and in the case of Williamstown and Fairfield, with desirable outlooks. Once it’s in private hands, there’s no getting it back.

This report by Abdullahi Jama and Kate Shaw examines the Carlton redevelopment which is being lauded by the government as a good example of public/private redevelopment.  Jama previously lived  at the Carlton estate, while Kate Shaw is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow in Urban Geography and Planning at the University of Melbourne.  They report that instead of a ‘salt-and-pepper’ distribution of public and private residents, the estate has separate public and private blocks, each with their own entrances, and few shared spaces.  The locked courtyard garden is for the use of the private occupiers only, and there is no mingling in the two cafes in the estate. This wasn’t the stated outcome when the redevelopment was first announced but, arguing that after the GFC it would be impossible to sell the private units, the idea of a ‘social mix’ has been put onto the backburner.  Meanwhile, private developers and owners have been able to grab prime real estate for themselves, without having to worry about ‘those’ people who are corralled in ‘their’ part of the estate.

Their conclusion?

A fully-funded state housing replacement program, partnering with non-profit housing associations if necessary and focused on increasing the social housing stock, would deliver better results. The privatisation of sections of public housing estates under the guise of social mix is unlikely to deliver the progressive social agenda suggested at its outset.  (p. 31)

 

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Redmond Barry’s house in East Melbourne

There’s a couple of derelict mansions in Clarendon Street. When I first read about the neglect of Valetta, I thought that it was the increasingly ramshackle mansion down near Alexandra Pde that I had assumed that belonged to the Pullman Hotel (ex-Hilton Hotel). Valetta, however, is at the other end of Clarendon Street, near Victoria Pde, up near Epworth/Freemasons Hospital.  The adjacent Clarendon House shows how beautiful it could be, and you can see the boarded up Valetta to the right of the picture.

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http://www.domain.com.au/news/fears-east-melbourne-mansion-valetta-house-may-become-case-of-demolition-by-neglect-20170116-gts4m4/

Valetta was the residence of Redmond Barry, who plays a rather prominent part in this blog (here and here) and in multiple places in the ‘This Week in Port Phillip’ postings. Or rather, he lived there for one year before he died.

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Valetta can be seen here, with Clarendon Terrace to the left.

Source: State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/296603

It will be interesting to see if this new Heritage Act has teeth in terms of forcing the owner to act. I’m not holding my breath.

The City That Knows How to Eat

Makes me proud to be a Melburnian.  Although strictly speaking it’s ‘smashed avo’, not avocado toast.

http://www.eater.com/2016/12/19/13986438/melbourne-restaurants-avocado-toast

Exhibition: The Jesus Trolley

If you nip into Central Melbourne for some Christmas shopping, stop off at the City Gallery that nestles into a corner of the Melbourne Town Hall on Swanston Street.  ‘The Jesus Trolley’ exhibition has been on since 8 September but with my habitual tardiness, I’m only writing about it now- and it closes on 24 December, most appropriately.

I see from today’s paper there have been a number of ‘Jesus bikes’ left around Melbourne with evangelical slogans on them.

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I thought instantly of the Jesus Trolley exhibition. The exhibition features Desmond Hynes who, for thirty years since 1983, pushed a decorated shopping trolley around the streets of central Melbourne and stood in his ‘Jesus is Lord’ windcheater, holding aloft a hand-painted sign proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection.  It was a full-time job for this self-appointed street evangelist, who lived with his sister in a rented property in Hotham Street Elsternwick, immediately opposite Ripponlea which, until sold and demolished, was similarly festooned with posters and exhortations (see photo here). All his preaching paraphernalia was headed for  the tip until a neighbour recognized it for the social history it is and salvaged some of it.  And here it is in the exhibition- a little cluster of shopping trolleys- and posters, photos showing the ephemeral nature of his eternity-oriented quest.

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There’s also a short 4 minute documentary about Desmond Hynes called ‘Doing’Time with Desmond Hynes’ filled by Russell McGilton in 1997 as part of the Race Around the World series. It’s also available here on YouTube:

But take advantage of seeing the exhibition while it’s still on.  There’s a beaut little book that you can pick up, with an excellent essay by Chris McAuliffe about street preaching more generally in Melbourne and photos of objects from the exhibit.

On until 24 December 2016 City Gallery, Melbourne Town Hall.

The streets are alive…

…with the sound of cheeping, whining magpies. Ye Gods, who’d be a magpie parent? On and on the young ‘uns nag – “feed me, feed me”- constantly hanging round wanting food.

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I have so many questions! Are these magpies here the same ones I see in the next street? Are they the same ones who were hanging around last year? Will they dive bomb me? How smart are they anyway?

And here’s a fascinating little podcast to answer all those questions and more. It was on Radio National’s Offtrack program last week;  it’s called The Colourful Life of the Australian Magpie and you can access it here.

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Exhibitions: Pholiota and Strutt

Once again I find myself visiting and writing about exhibitions just as they’re metaphorically turning the lights off and getting ready to shut the door. Well, perhaps not quite, because both these exhibitions close on 23 October, but that certainly doesn’t leave long to catch them.

Pholiota Unlocked 7-23 October 2016, 9am-5pm. Dulux Gallery, ground floor, Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne. Entry is free.

I knew that there must be something up with Pholiota because I’d noticed so many hits on a posting I wrote back in 2013 about Walter and Marion Griffin which included photographs of the interior of Pholiota, which I was fortunate enough to view on an open day.

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Pholiota – you can just see the Knitlock brickwork

Pholiota (meaning ‘mushroom’) was constructed by Walter and Marion Griffin in Eaglemont, beside the Lippincott House which Griffin also designed for his brother-in-law. Knowing that its miniscule size (6.4 metres by 6.4 metres) would preclude it receiving building approval, they claimed that it was only a doll’s house for the Lippincott House next door.  They lived there between 1920 and 1925 very happily: so happily in fact that Marion claimed that they sometimes walked backwards on the way to Eaglemont station so that they could admire it from afar.

The original house is, in effect, a single room with sleeping alcoves, a too-small kitchen and a largish dressing room surrounding the dining room with its open fireplace.

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The large table in the centre of the room; very small kitchen in the middle rear

Students from the Melbourne University School of Design have built a life-sized model of Pholiota from  plaster blocks fabricated using modern materials manufactured using the Knitlock system invented by Griffin as an inexpensive, do-it-yourself form of building.

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The walls only reach about eight feet high and there is no roof, so you feel as if you are looking down on the model.  Even though it was empty and completely white,  it seemed smaller than I remembered the real Pholiota to be. You can don virtual-reality glasses to look at a student’s design for updating Pholiota to current taste.

In an adjacent gallery students have reimagined the Glenard Estate which was laid out by Griffin in 1916.  Charged with making it a medium-density suburb while maintaining Griffin’s vision of shared green space, the students have designed streetscapes with multiple dwellings, the same size as Pholiota and each with 2 bedroom spaces, more than doubling the density of the suburb.  I’m sure that the good people of Glenard Estate are horrified.

There’s a good article about Pholiota here

Heroes and villains: Strutt’s Australia State Library of Victoria 14 July-23 Oct 2016, entry free.

Despite the rain, we caught a tram down Swanston Street to the State Library of Victoria to catch the last days of ‘Strutt’s Australia’, an exhibition previously on show at the National Library featuring works by the painter William Strutt.

Have a look here and you’ll see that you probably recognize many of his paintings without necessarily realizing that he had painted them.  Burke and Wills; bushrangers; the Black Thursday bushfires: he’s a veritable one-man-band of Australian imagery- or perhaps rather, he helped create it.

Born in England, he began drawing at  the Paris atelier of Michel-Martin Drolling in 1838 (just 13!) where he was trained in figure drawing leading to the painting of large history paintings.  He lived in Australia between 1850 where he painted portraits of John Fawkner (Judge Willis’ most vocal supporter), members of the Native Police Force and Robert O’Hara Burke (of Burke and Wills fame) He travelled to the goldfields where he made sketches of the diggers at work and  made sketches in preparation for making big-history paintings of the opening of the Victorian Legislative Council in 1851 and Parliament House in 1856.  Many of his scrap books furnished small sketches which he later incorporated into his pictures. He returned to England in 1862 where he painted ‘popular’ pictures to keep body and soul together, as well as the big historical paintings of Australian events that we know so well e.g. Black Thursday and the burial of Burke (which of course he never witnessed).

There’s an interesting interactive display where you can click on the figures in his Bushrangers picture and see the original sketches that he had done in preparation for this larger picture. I was surprised by the variation in quality of the works on display: his nude figures as a 13 year old are very good and the details in his big history paintings are vivid and well-realized but to be honest, some of his portraits are pretty ordinary.

Spotted in Melbourne 16 October 2016

In a laneway near the Queen Vic market yesterday….