I am a critical urban geographer with a background in urban planning, currently completing a book entitled The Squander and Salvage of Urban Waterfronts (Palgrave MacMillan)
In essence my research looks at cultures of cities – at how and where people live, work and play. Questions of access and affordability are crucial to these choices. I’m especially interested in places where land is not put to its ‘highest and best’ (economic) use – places that are valued more for their use (whatever that might be) than their potential exchange. If they are not maximising economic return, they are likely available for relatively low rent, and this enables all sorts of activities to flourish. These places encourage use for production, not just consumption, and can be the most interesting and engaging places in a city.
What are we to make of the multiple and often contradictory forces that bring such places about? Are they sustainable, or must they be understood as ephemeral by-products of the property market? Do cultural policy and planning interventions have a role in maintaining complex urban ecosystems?
My current project focuses on urban renewal in the 21st century, exploring ways of improving on the renewal projects of the last 50 years. I’m looking at the jurisdictional capacities for building social equity and cultural diversity: the legislative, regulatory, financial, political and cultural barriers to and facilitators of socially equitable urban development. Where policy and planning interventions do succeed in making a city more interesting, equitable and diverse, how and why?
My background is in alternative cultures. I have particular interest in Melbourne’s live music and indie arts scenes, and I advise governments and campaigns on local planning and policies to maintain them. At the moment I am Deputy Chair of the City of Melbourne’s Creative Spaces working group, a member of the Victorian State government’s live music roundtable, and advisor to the City of Sydney’s live music taskforce which last year released a very impressive live music action plan for that city.
My last project was an ARC discovery project in the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning at Melbourne University titled Planning the ‘creative city’: reconciling global strategies with local subcultures (2009-2012). Before this I was research associate on a large linkage project titled Transnational and Temporary: students, community and place-making in central Melbourne (2005-2008). Prior to becoming research-only, I taught planning law, statutory planning, urban design, and ran classes on political economy, gentrification and the cultures of cities.
You can find a full list of my publications on this website, as well as a new page with my favourite publications for immediate download, and a list of my post-graduate students and their topics.