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MPavilion’s Inaugural Place Debate: The suburbs are no place to raise a child.

By February 25, 2020October 22nd, 2021No Comments

Harriet Grummet Place Debate M Pavilion Right Angle Studio


Turns out it pays to raise an argumentative child.

Next week, our first-born (of four daughters) and 2019 VCE Graduate Harriet Grummet, will air our family’s dirty urban laundry (!), give voice to the Next Gen and bring her (actually quite scarily formidable) debating prowess to Melbourne at MPavilion for the inaugural Right Angle Studio Place Debate.

The Place Debate will take place in front of a live audience next Thursday March 5, and will bring together some of Melbourne’s great minds (including James Tutton, Jo Hook, Rachel Elliot-Jones, Matiu Bush, Stephen Choi, Barrie Barton (and newly minted youth voice Harriet Grummet 😉 to pit the city against the suburbs as two teams respond to the idea that ‘The suburbs are no place to raise a child’.

The evening will be moderated by the Strategy and Insights Director at Right Angle Studio Barrie Barton, and will flesh out ideas about place-making, urban liveability and the social, environmental and design challenges of the 20-minute city.

This is a FREE event but is almost booked out so please register here ASAP.

So does it really take a village to raise a child?

How about a city, or a suburb?

In the wake of recent #bushfires and climate change pressures, a volatile global economy and the total Australian population expected to jump from 25.7 million today to 37.6 million by 2050 (Sydney and Melbourne’s populations are projected to explode by up to 80 per cent to reach 8 million inhabitants each), #liveability remains an increasingly important goal of Australian planning policy.

Creating cities where residents can easily commute to the services they require within 20 to 30 minutes of their residence has recently been proposed at both federal and state level, and is a key liveability-related mechanism.

The previous federal government’s 2010 National Urban Policy stated:

Liveable cities are socially inclusive, affordable, accessible, healthy, safe and resilient to the impacts of climate change … Liveable cities provide choice and opportunity for people to live their lives, and raise their families, to their fullest potential.

In Victoria, keeping Melbourne “attractive and liveable” is the cornerstone of the state government’s newly updated Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 strategy, and liveability is seen as a way to stay globally competitive, attracting more business and more international students, currently Victoria’s most profitable service export.

Plan Melbourne’s vision of liveability involves:

… a city of 20-minute neighbourhoods … where people can access most of their needs within a 20-minute walk, cycle or public transport trip.

The plan discusses people’s need for access to a long list of local services – shopping centres, health facilities, schools and lifelong learning opportunities, playgrounds and parks (including community gardens, green spaces and recreation facilities), affordable housing (including the ability to age in place) and “local public transport”.

I’m (for once) looking forward to leaning in, learning from and listening to Harriet (as a pose to lecturing) – and to hearing both sides of the debate – to understand more about what we can expect to see in the suburbs and cities of our future.

But whether our cities or our suburbs are fit to house the citizens of the new age is yet to be decided. Until next week ….


About M Pavilion

MPavilion is Australia’s leading architecture commission, and a cultural laboratory for the community to engage and share.

MPavilion is an ongoing initiative of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation and is supported by the City of Melbourne, State Government of Victoria through Creative Victoria and Development Victoria, and ANZ.

About Right Angle Studio

Founded in 2005, Right Angle Studio works tirelessly to understand inner-city audiences and environments, and has a simple mission: To understand and improve life in our cities. Right Angle Studio has started a number of businesses, including Melbourne’s Rooftop Cinema, Sydney’s Golden Age Cinema & Bar and Paramount Recreation Club, and also undertakes client work delivering research, strategy and unique creative for AMP Capital, Mirvac, Tourism Victoria, Lendlease, Monash University, Stockland, GPT, City of Sydney, CommBank, MCA, Hotel Hotel and many more.