The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has launched the Urban Innovation Ideas Competition to revitalise the Melbourne CBD's north-west corner - bound by La Trobe, William, Bourke and Spencer Streets. 

The ULI invites the next generation of architects, developers and urban planners to propose innovative ideas for revitalising this emerging and highly strategic location. 

Even with significant transformation in recent years, the inner-city location suffers from a lack of identity, limited on-street activity outside of business hours, little open public space and community amenity, according to the ULI.

This year, the competition asks entrants to propose ideas that may assist in transforming the area into a more vibrant, safe and liveable 24-hour neighbourhood. The physical area has been chosen as the focus of this year’s competition due to its diverse mix of land users, increasing residential function and lack of definition as a neighbourhood. 

Following its success in Brisbane in 2016, the Urban Innovation Ideas Competition gives young professionals and students aged under 35 the opportunity to explore and gain recognition for their innovative ideas. To launch the 2018 Competition, ULI is hosting the ULI City Forum on 22 August. The event will see a panel discuss the challenges and changes since the City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne 2020 plan was developed over 10 years ago. Panellists will include Ian Briggs from Plus Architecture, Sarah Macklin from Urbis, Professor Donald Bates from the University of Melbourne and Bec McHenry from The Space Agency. 

“ULI’s Urban Innovation Initiative provides a platform for young people and their ideas and brings together collaborative leadership, innovation and creativity to address topical issues in urban development,” says ULI executive director David McCracken. 

“In the Competition we are looking for ideas that are both practical and creative, adopting innovative approaches that will generate significant value across multiple channels. It’s important that entrants represent a new approach or way of thinking and synthesise urban practice from a number of different areas,” he continues. 

According to Sue Say, director at Urbis and Chair of the ULI Melbourne’s newly convened District Council, this year’s theme is ‘Nurturing the inner city’s diversity and liveability’ and entrants should consider the area’s context, opportunities and challenges to promote ideas that are innovative, creative and game changing.

“Whilst Melbourne’s CBD has been guided by a suite of targeted and innovative approaches – from the postcode 3000 policy, the renewal of its laneways, and the design of its streetscapes – the city’s north-west corner continues to face a number of prevailing issues that are impacting the vitality and appeal of this area,” she says.

“As such, this year we are seeking proposals that if realised would transform the north-west corner of Melbourne’s CBD into a locality that is diverse, liveable, vibrant, activated and resilient.”

Participants can enter individually or as a team of up to four, with the ultimate winners receiving a trip to the  2019 ULI Asia Pacific Summit on 4-6 June in Shanghai to present their idea at ULI’s Regional conference.

Registrations for the first stage of the 2018 ULI Australia Urban Innovation Ideas Competition open on 24 August and close 10 September.