Imagine on the weekend you were in Melbourne, you met with friends, ate
dinner, bought a new shirt, visited a gallery and learnt about the city’s
history, and all without leaving (or straying too far from) one of the many laneways
that make up the city heart. Now you return home and want to do the same
for your neighbourhood. As you stand in one of your local laneways and look around, it's hard to imagine the same scale of vibrancy witnessed in Melbourne and what it would take to get it there. The challenge is, your laneway is rarely used
and if for anything, by the not so attractive city services. But hope exists, and like the continued 'Melbournisation' of Australia, innovative strategies across the world are transforming dead spaces into thriving community hubs.
Over the past decade, and increasingly over the past couple of years, cities across Australia have been implementing policies, such as Renew Newcastle, aimed at revitalising dead spaces within the city core. Another popular strategy, and one based on the successful revitalisation of Melbourne, has been aimed at the laneway (click here for a policy example from Brisbane).
Melbourne’s successful laneway culture and its improved connection to place, fostering of community expression and revitalised urban core, is now being used as a catalyst for highlighting other ways in which we can better use the dead spaces in our cities. The many benefits, and case study of Melbourne, has made the 'laneway' a popular talking point at all levels of the community, including Government and big business. But could we be seeing a new strategy emerge, one that isn’t in the shadows of the street but rather focused up in the sky?
Take for example, the Quadrangle Rooftop Market, a biannual event in Surry Hills that activates a building rooftop and highlights the potential use(s) of such spaces. Starting in 2012 by the team at The Office Space, the rooftop market is a great collection of creatives, coming together to enjoy the outdoors, meet new people and selling fashionable goods, and all while being several storeys up from the street below.
And it isn’t just Sydney that’s doing it, Melbourne has a number of rooftop spaces including Curtin House Rooftop Bar, Adelaide has Rocket Rooftop, Perth has three including The Greenhouse, and if we jump across the Pacific, rooftops throughout New York City are supplying the city with its fresh produce needs.
Are there any rooftops in your city needing some extra attention – perhaps a
new bar, market or farm? Share your ideas below.