Melbourne Now countdown – day 65

As part of a larger project in Melbourne Now called ZOOM we are creating an ‘opinion poll’ which will examine some of the best ideas about how we can create a better city for the future, while also investigating how public opinion can shape the city around us.

Drawing these two things together we are creating a giant wall of prompt cards displaying statements from leading designers, academics, entrepreneurs, and community leaders about the future of the city. The audience will be asked to choose the cards that they feel conveys what is important to them. Each card has a barcode that can be scanned. Over time the selections will form a poll of good (and bad) ideas for the future of the city. It will also highlight which ideas people think are worthy of enacting.

The installation asks the visitor to momentarily consider how we can maintain our quality of life in light of future pressures that seem set to shape the future for us. Once parameters such as population growth, water scarcity, rising energy costs, or the constant expansion of the city perimeter are ‘locked in’, we have to design contingencies for these scenarios. Ideally this is better done with foresight and community participation. It is also possible for us to imagine now what future we want to create. This ideation is at the very heart of the design process.

The opinion poll is a thought provoking activity that proposes that every citizen influences the future of the city, and that the city in turn influences everyone within. Accepting this co-dependent relationship empowers us all to imagine the city we want to create and to instigate a virtuous cycle for future generations.

At the moment our team, including graphic designer Matthew Angel and interior designers Design Office are working through the design resolution of the opinion poll.  To do this we need to decide how many questions we should ask – too many might be hard to look through, too few might seem to be superficial. We are also resolving the technical aspects of scanning and gathering the data into a meaningful format.

While the technical details are being resolved we have already approached a broad cross-section of visionary, opinionated and experienced people from different sectors such as health, education, transport, and public policy. We have asked each person to draw on their expertise and contributing short punchy ideas for the future of Melbourne.

We have asked all of our contributors to respond to the question: “How might we design our future city?”

The responses are streaming in. Some such as “Stop The Waste” relate to the need to address food waste in the city, other such as “Create technology free zones” denote a sense of nostalgia for simpler times. In contrast we have a suggestion that tall buildings are connected by ‘skyways’ as elevated transit and green space and that transport should offer free wi-fi throughout the system.  We can just imagine checking our email on the skytube, while zooming through the hanging gardens of Melbourne. Can you?

ZOOM is supported by the Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation.