Redesigning Morwell

A competition which could see the Morwell central business district redesigned by the world’s international architecture talents opens on Friday.

Designed to help facilitate the Latrobe Valley’s plans to transition to a low carbon future, the competition is calling for urban design and landscape architecture submissions, which will depict what a “transitioned” Latrobe Valley will look like.

RMIT Landscape Architecture Associate Professor Dr Rosalea Monacella said a “cross section” strip of the Latrobe Valley had been identified from which teams can select to redesign.

The 3000 hectare cross section runs from the Yallourn open cut, through the Morwell CBD, across a section of Hazelwood mine and power station pondage, to the Morwell National Park.

“It’s a great area to cover; it’s about a 20 kilometre length, with a width of 1.5km, in which we’ve tried to cover all the key industries; it even takes in a bit of Australian Paper plantation,” Dr Monacella said.

“It took us a number of months to determine the best spot for a cross section, which could provide a test case for dealing with the urban design of the broader region; this (section) has everything in it.”

Dr Monacella said while the competition did not open until Friday, there had already been preliminary interest expressed from artists worldwide.

RMIT sociologist Dr Darren Snell, who has been involved in a number of Latrobe Valley transition studies, said he hoped any submission would also have a focus on generating economic activity in the area.

“If these sorts of (design) initiatives get off the ground, does all the expertise comes from overseas or Melbourne, or will it have a focus on local employment and skills development and indeed local contracting?” Dr Snell said.

Dr Monacella said local residents would be asked to comment on the plans, which will be judged by a 13-strong panel of local and international experts, including two from Harvard and MIT universities in the United States.

The competition closes on 26 November, with winners for more than $20,000 in prizes to be announced on 14 December.

The $120,000 project is sponsored by RMIT University’s Office of Urban Transformations Research Laboratory in the School of Architecture and Design, Latrobe City Council, the State Department of Primary Industries Clean Coal Victoria Unit and the Gippsland Climate Change Network.

Competition details will be posted online at at 4pm Friday.