melbourne green park
Image – Canva.
  • Cohabiting with nature in innovative ways will benefit both ourselves and the environment
  • Intelligent urban design can remove urban issues including noise, but also reintroduce greenery
  • Integration can also hide unsightly city features such as train lines


As we previously explored with David Mah, a researcher from the University of Melbourne, livability is no longer a discussion about lifestyle, but about integrating with the environment.

One of the headline examples that appeared at Melbourne Design Week included synthetic habitats for threatened species such as monarch butterflies. Another example on show was a compact cricket habitat to grow sustenance, “offering a solution that vastly reduces the carbon footprint of protein-based food production.”

Un-dividing a city

The great thing about the butterfly project is the fact it puts the issue of ecology front and centre into our minds, said Mr Mah.

“The issue of design includes function but also how it communicates with the public. A glass wall communicates something very different to a green wall or a wall with a habitat.”

David Mah, University of Melbourne

Mr Mah told The Property Tribune a poignant example of integrating the ecology and the city was in Spain.

logrono spain train station roof installation
People enjoying the interconnectedness the Felipe VI Park provides, linking together the city otherwise divided by a train line. Image – the University of Melbourne, The Climate Imaginary, Abalos + Sentkiewicz, Iñaki Ábalos

Logroño, about four hours north of Madrid, is a prime example of this type of environmental integration.

Far away view logrono train station felip vi park
Image – the University of Melbourne, The Climate Imaginary, Abalos + Sentkiewicz, Iñaki Ábalos

An open train line, which would otherwise have “split a city in half” was dealt with by building a large green roof over the area.

“It’s a public space in what would usually be infrastructure that’s limited. It’s a gift to the citizens of Logroño.”

David Mah, University of Melbourne

Mr Mah also said that designers are trying to think about every part of the city that constitutes an ecology and an environment. It’s not simply a duel between cities, architecture and nature on different sides, but more about how a city contributes to the environment in itself.

close up view of felipe vi park in logrono spain
Intelligent urban design was used to seamlessly integrate a city into the ecology at Felipe VI Park, covering the otherwise unwelcome sight of a train line. Image – the University of Melbourne, The Climate Imaginary, Abalos + Sentkiewicz, Iñaki Ábalos

Manipulating maps makes for new perspectives

One fascinating project that came out of Melbourne Design Week was a new way to map Melbourne.

Mr Mah told The Property Tribune that the project involved mapping Melbourne according to its different ecological aspects, for example where the aquifers and other hydrological systems are, the age of the ecology and grasslands were some examples.

“It’s basically showing you that Melbourne is a series of very intricate and interconnected ecologies and it’s part of this larger hydrological cycle. It changes your thinking about the city and it stops being about where the roads are or your favourite café.”

David Mah, University of Melbourne

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