A plan to transform Australian cities, developed by the City of Melbourne and Department of Transport, has won the Australian Award for Urban Design.

Lord mayor Robert Doyle, says the plan, driven by professor Rob Adams and his team of urban designers, was a well researched argument for intensification of residential developments along public transport corridors.

"The research showed that accommodating an increased population, growing in a sustainable way and maintaining a high quality of living is possible in Melbourne by developing at higher densities along existing transport infrastructure, whilst maintaining the green wedges between these areas," he says.

The lord mayor believes that addressing housing affordability and diversity, environmentally sustainable development, water consumption and transport initiatives will be key to meeting the challenges of urban growth.

The study, Transforming Australian Cities, demonstrates that by utilising 6 per cent of the area within the existing urban growth boundary, Melbourne could accommodate a further 3.3 million people.

Director of design and urban environment, professor Rob Adams, says Melbourne could avoid future expansion of the urban growth boundaries, or development within the existing suburban areas, by building low-rise, high density developments along major road based public transport routes and within activity centres served by railway stations.

"If Melbourne is to double its size over the next 20 years it is not realistic to expect it to replicate the infrastructure that has taken 180 years to build. The study indicates that better utilisation of existing infrastructure, rather than expansion, is a more logical way forward," Adams says.