Inverting the City/Country Dynamic

At a recent session with the Gen Y group working on the ‘Future Melbourne’ project for the City of Melbourne I suggested that the group consider what the result might be if they could ‘invert’ the way the State of Victoria operates. What would you be likely to see if more of the functions of the city occured outside of the CBD and more of the functions of the country occured in the City?

In pushing them to think further than they originally did, I suggested that there is no reason why these monolithic edifices called office buildings would be used for temporary storage of workers. After all, I reasoned, the function of the CBD would be conducted elsewhere which means workers would begin to gain benefits from the broadband access now denied to them and the required management techniques that fostered remote working. One element of the CBD inverted to the country.

But what to do with the existing infrastructure? That of course is a no brainer – the city office blocks would become our farms. More predictable and controllable weather patterns and water use, we’d have Wheat growing on floors 3-9; Corn on 10-16 and Rice on 17-20. In the underground carpark right to the ground floor we’d run cattle and other stock. The methane captured would be used to power the 24 hours a day hydroponic lamps that grow the crops. There’d be a reduction in transport costs as local farm sites began popping up right where they are need – next to the actual population that needs to be fed. In Austraia with our relatively poor soils and ever increasing periods of drought we have a real boon in food production.

And think of what all that new city space could lead to in terms of community engagement projects. That’s not to mention the drop in stress levels as hundreds of thousands of work hours lost in traffic crawls to and from the city get converted into usable and highly productive time. And just think of the air quality in town! A case of the rural activity inverted to occur in the city.

It’s no pipe dream. Just one that requires some serious thinking.

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