Melbourne is now coming to the fore as a design hotspot. With three and a half million inhabitants, it is on a scale that is livable and diverse. Its rich and varied cultural intimacy has enabled it to build up a unique dynamism, which is set to shift the entire design agenda of the world - much like Barcelona did in the 1980s and Antwerp did in the 1990s. Melbourne is to be the city of the noughties. The intense plurality of Melbourne's recent design culture is due to have a vast impact on the way in which we think about city regions and living in them. This is a story of wonderful spaces: in civic and institutional buildings; in galleries, bars, clubs and restaurants; in one of the world's tallest residential apartment buildings; in beach houses and mountain shacks; in workshops and studios; and in international sports venues.
As Melbourne hosts the Commonwealth games in 2006, a vast influx of visitors will be experiencing these spaces for the first time. Through luscious photography and an accessible text, Design City Melbourne is devised not only to illustrate a wide range of fascinating interiors and their architecural matrices, but also to describe the people behind them and how these spaces support the vital culture of this uniquely mixed and cosmopolitan city. A metropolis that is situated in the same time zone as China, and which is pioneering in its European colonial matrix the admixture of new Asian urban forms.
Leon van Schaik studied and taught at the Architectural Association in London. Currently, Innovation Professor of Architecture at RMIT in Melbourne, van Schaik promotes local and international architectural culture through practice-based research. He is the author of Mastery in Architecture: Becoming a Creative Innovator in Practice, Wiley-Academy, 2005.