Australian research lab Finding Infinity has collaborated with architects, councils and investors to create a strategy that would turn Melbourne into a self-sufficient city by 2030. Building on exemplary case studies and scientific research, the initiative proposes a 10 step plan for the city’s transition from a consumer of resources to a zero-carbon urban environment.
Currently, Melbourne is close to the top 1% of the most polluting cities in the world. Finding Infinity, an organisation dedicated to speeding the transition to self-sufficient cities through financially viable and technically feasible solutions, has developed a plan for the Australian city to become zero-waste and completely autonomous in terms of energy, food and water. The strategy called “ A New Normal” is based on the idea that cities must take the initiative in decreasing carbon emissions and comes with practical solutions, where economic and technical viability have been carefully considered.
The report identifies 10 key initiatives focusing on electrifying transport, sustainable energy production, recycling waste, and efficient architecture. Among the steps required for Melbourne to become a self-sufficient city by 2030 are: phasing out the electric combustion engines in cars, phasing out natural gas for heating, mandating the retrofit of all existing buildings for reducing energy and water consumption, converting organic waste to energy and mandating net-positive energy, water neutrality and zero-waste for all new buildings.
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The initiative is not only financially and technologically viable, but the strategy also has the support of local authorities. As Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp says, “Bringing together business, all levels of government and the people of Melbourne, the ideas presented in the New Normal will stir much–needed discussion and deserve serious consideration. In our recovery from the bushfires and COVID-19, we have an opportunity to re-imagine and transform our city with a vision for the long-term while solving our short term challenges.”
To kickstart the transition towards a zero-carbon city, the initiative enlisted the support of leading Australian architectural and design practices to design fifteen prototypes, each reflecting a practical way of implementing one of the 10 points defining the strategy. “These pilot projects are designed to help de-risk the transition for the state government, provide working case studies for the private sector to replicate and make it easy for the general public to come along for the ride,” says Mark Jacques from Openwork, one of the design firms involved in the project.
The strategy was presented during Melbourne Design Week through a series of installations, prototypes and design concepts showcasing potential solutions for turning Melbourne into a self-sufficient city by 2030. The event took place on the rooftop of a repurposed office building in Melbourne and featured, among others, a solar pavilion designed by John Wardle Architects and an energy-producing greenhouse by Ha.
The next step in the initiative is finding investors and sites across Melbourne to deliver the first fifteen projects. “We’re raising $50 million by December 2021 to build the first 15 projects. These first projects will help us to break through any political and cultural barriers. From then on, we simply need to replicate. These are not imaginary ideas; these are the first 15 projects required to unlock a $100 billion transition, creating a city that will never run out.”, says Ross Harding, principal at Finding Infinity.
To discover the 15 projects and read the strategy’s report, visit the project’s webpage.