The Commonwealth versus Melbourne's public space

Ware, S 2006, 'The Commonwealth versus Melbourne's public space', in T. McMinn, J. Stephens and S. Basson (ed.) Contested Terrains, Fremantle, Australia, 29 September-2 October 2006.


Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Conference Papers

Title The Commonwealth versus Melbourne's public space
Author(s) Ware, S
Year 2006
Conference name Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand XXIII Annual Conference 2006
Conference location Fremantle, Australia
Conference dates 29 September-2 October 2006
Proceedings title Contested Terrains
Editor(s) T. McMinn
J. Stephens
S. Basson
Publisher Society of Architectural Historians
Place of publication Australian and New Zealand
Abstract Landscape architect Beth Diamond writes, Democracy is about constant negotiation with multiple and conflicting groups and individuals working to create a contingent co-existence, which, by its very nature, will never be stable. Public space, in this context, is not the territory of shared values and beliefs, but the arena where differences and conflict can be revealed. The 2006 Commonwealth Games event in Melbourne was the site of many contested terrains and calls for a re-examination into notions of democratic equality with regards to public space. This paper will consider the nature of three affected sites during the games event; the highly publicised and politicised Stolenwealth Indigenous camp in the King's Domain, a local gathering point in front of St Paul Cathedral on Swanston Street, and the street frontage of Melbourne's City Mission on Bourke street. This paper will question public event programs and the State Government's ability to select who should and can inhabit the public realm of Melbourne. It seeks to challenge a general agreement about who the public is, what they want and what they need as well as analyse each site in terms of prominence and spatial configuration. The very act of universalising the public deprives it of its transformative power by reducing the complexities and contradictions of diversity. Geographer Don Mithcell puts forward an alternative vision for public space, what makes a public space...is not its preordained publicness. Rather, it is when to fulfill a pressing need, some group or another takes space and through its action makes it public. Interactivity and social engagement is regarded as the defining action in the creation of public space. International events are integral to the vitality of contemporary cities but their lingering effects may in fact erase the very reason for locating them in particular cities.
Subjects Architecture not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) public space
democracy protest
ISBN 0646465945
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