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Monash Art Design & Architecture

Monash University

Monash Art Design & Architecture

Future scenarios for Elwood

The suburb of Elwood has a unique position in Melbourne’s expansive landscape. While benefitting from its proximity to beach and CBD, the suburb has little public infrastructure. However the canal that runs through the suburb is a unique feature that was once derided but now partly defines its strong character and public realm, whilst also referring to a memory of the delicate and ephemeral landscape it once was.

The dredging of the swamp and the cutting of the canal provided new land for sale and development in the late 19th century, while Melbourne was at the height of its global prowess. Now, a century later, while the house prices have skyrocketed and the attitude towards swamps and wetlands have changed, along with changes in health and cultural attitudes, the floods return, and the suburb is simultaneously exposed to inundation from even the smallest degree of sea level rise.

Due to the original condition of the swampy landscape the suburb was a late bloomer. Land development only came to Elwood in the 1920s in the form of art-deco walk-up apartments and large detached period dwellings. Recently Elwood has seen speculative developments aimed at an older and wealthy demographic. Due to this combination of wealth, mixed demographics, proximity to St. Kilda, the beach and the CBD while having to surrender to the swampy conditions of the landscape under a scenario of climate change, the neighbourhood can accommodate new and unique housing typologies.

The studio will investigate how underlying landscapes can inform building typologies and how at a time of new climate threats these typologies can evolve towards a liveable future. The group work will culminate in an interdisciplinary public exhibition to be held in late June, incorporating the parallel work of CRC researchers from Australia and Europe in fields of social science, civil engineering and flood modeling.

Nigel Bertram with Rutger Pasman + Catherine Murphy
In association with the Co-operative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities
arc 4/5001

Image Credits: Squint Opera: Flooded London

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