Urban architecture: Sydney vs. Melbourne
Every year a fresh tiff springs up between Australia’s two most livable cities. If you read Condé Naste Traveler Sydney wins hands down for lifestyle. If you read The Economist it’s Melbourne.
In other parts of the world Sydney and Melbourne would be located in separate countries. But let’s indulge this parochial debate for a moment. Let’s take it beyond food, fashion and football to include our urban architecture, to include the fabric of the cities we play in.
In the red corner: Sydney
Sydney is Australia’s most iconic city. When the world thinks of Australia, the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Mardi Gras come to mind.
The character of Sydney is defined by sun, city and surf. It’s less like Europe and more like San Fran or Miami. It is also known for being fast paced and competitive. It’s tougher and more expensive. It helps to survive if you go to the gym and add things to your smoothies.
At the same time its egalitarian. As urban designer and property developer Linda Gregoriou notes; “If you have an ounce of nouse about you and work hard, you can get ahead. It is less socially stratified than Melbourne”. Penny Crasswell, Author of the Design Writer and former editor of Artichoke says; “Sydneysiders are obsessed with the outdoors, but they are also a more outward looking people in general, they love Sydney but they can also admit they love Melbourne too”.
While most agree that Melbourne is the most progressive city to date, all agree Sydney is gaining fast with thoughtful investment in all the right places.
In the blue corner: Melbourne
Melbourne is a true metropolis. Enriched with a river, romantic alleyways, cyclists and outstanding food; it stretches from the simplest pleasures to the most sublime.
Home of the unfettered sub-culture, Melbourne has grit and texture. A hot bed of start-ups, sexy retail and understated cool, we love Melbourne for it’s welcoming vibe. They’re a conscious bunch down in Victoria and it shows in the architecture they embrace.
Melbourne let’s you pick your pace. It is easy to dwell in awesome little neighbourhoods where you’ll find “first rate” everything or to get really geeky at one of the excellent design schools.
It’s a little bit Berlin, with some bucolic charm thrown in. It still has good warehouse parties and a cranking late night bar culture. So that if you are a hard drinking native city dweller from the likes of London, Copenhagen, or Berlin you’ll be duty bound to embrace Melbs just like a local.
As panelist Nick Harding notes, “Melbourne is politically and socially unique to the rest of Australia. The City of Yarra has a majority population of people between the age of 25 and 35. The seat of Melbourne is held by the Greens Party. Not many parts of Australia could share the same statistics,” Harding says.
But in terms of design and architecture who really takes the Lamington cake? Can the flat basalt plain of Melbourne ever rival the intricate estuaries of Sydney Harbour? Will Sydney’s burgeoning industrial areas ever trump Melbourne’s labyrinthian city charms? And importantly, how do people embrace and shape the city to form a lasting creed for future generations?
To answer these questions we curated a panel of experts from the design community, asking them about the major points about architecture and urban planning.