Full paper submitted to International Conference Arte Polis 3 – Creative Collaboration and the Making of Place, ITB Bandung, July 2010


A city in Spain taped its decline by inserting a ‘gigantic’ building into the heart of Bilbao for boasting its global recognition, yet Melbourne started with revitalization of a fine-grain urban fabric – a gridiron plan with its lanes system – as a vital identity for the city. Original plan for Melbourne CBD was laid out on 201 x 201 meters grid in 1837 by Robert Hoddle.  Small subdivisions sprung up to give more accessways and values to premises within the larger city block. However, the center was left by its people after office hours and turned the laneways into empty spaces, associated with crimes and prostitutes. Starting in mid 1980s, Melbourne has reclimed its city into a 24-hour activities district, and currently is well-known as one of the most liveable cities in 21 th Century.

This paper is a descriptive discourse aimed at two aspects. The first is to outline planning and design approaches that have been implemented into the laneways in Melbourne. Meanwhile, the second aspect is to show how laneways have become a milieu for creative collaborations between artists, local bussinesses and the City Council.

Acknowledgement to its multicultural assets and the passion of arts and creativity, the City of Melbourne has transformed its dead laneways into the hidden treasures that would make everyone leaves their cars and walks through the rich sensory narrow streets in between high rise buildings. Physical improvments, active edges policy and arts strategy which initiates temporary arts installations, graffiti designated walls and creative spaces, have contributed to the formation of a creative milieu in Melbourne.

Keywords: Melbourne, Laneways, revitalization, a creative millieu, arts strategy


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