The Chain of Ponds is an action plan to inform planning and implementation of projects along the Moonee Ponds Creek by exploring appropriate design and ecological strategies to improve the creek. It is a comprehensive investigation into what the creek once was, is today and may become in the future.
Like so many cities around the world, Melbourne is experiencing rapid population growth, urban development and the need to house more people closer together. Traffic congestion, pollution, noise, and social alienation are real problems, as are an ever-expanding assortment of health problems, including obesity, depression, attention deficit, auto-immune diseases and diabetes. With this rapid development comes the ongoing deterioration of natural systems within and around the city, highlighted by degraded urban creeks and waterways and biodiversity loss.
Within this context, there is a growing recognition that something must change. This includes the possibility that nature and natural systems can play a crucial role in resolving many of these complex urban problems. However, for this to occur we will need to take a very different direction in the design of our cities if we are to tackle these problems effectively. Cities are diverse, interconnected assemblages that are rich in spatial and temporal relationships. To design cities well, we must avoid inefficient and wasteful monofunctional strategies and reinvent city form as integrated components that solve multiple, overlapping and complex problems.
This new approach to urban design focuses on the important role that natural systems, biodiversity and contact with living things plays in the health of individuals and by extension the health of the city. This strategy understands the city as an ecology; it is a detailed, complex and interrelated mix of elements, processes, systems and exchanges. The Chain of Ponds project draws together the loose threads of the city, testing for inherent compatibilities and mutual benefits between different urban components. It explores new types of urban ‘ecologies’ and proposes integrated components that are flexible, adaptable and most importantly multipurpose. In this way, ecology becomes a positive force in the (re)structuring of the city.