One of the side benefits for me of creating this podcast is that I get to chat with some of my heroes; people I have admired from a distance for a long period of time.
My guest for this week is in this category. I was once an aspiring urban designer/place-maker, and through exploring this field came across the work of Village Well and Gilbert Rochecouste. This was around 2005, and I was blown away by the behind-the-scenes work they were doing in shaping the city I loved.
Now considered to be one of the most livable places in the world, 30 years ago the city centre of Melbourne was ranked at the other end of this scale. There have been many factors in enabling this turnaround. People like Rob Adams, Jan Gehl, and of course Gilbert being some of the influencers. It’s hard to imagine that 30 years ago barely anybody lived within the centre; eating outside was considered ludicrous, and heritage buildings were available at what would today be considered bargain prices.
In our conversation, Gilbert talks about the process of placemaking within Melbourne. Of helping people come together around a place; of considering the role and rights of non-humans in creating place; and of bring joy, justice and connection to communities.
We also talk about the story that is emerging in our city. Of the long history that Aboriginal Australians have with space, and what can be done to incorporate this wisdom into the city we are all creating.
I am captivated by cities. I love exploring them by foot and trying to work out what makes a place work and flow. I think this conversation captures the role cities can play in bringing people together, and how we can contribute to that. I hope you enjoy the conversation.