Local female architects reveal their favourite ‘Sacred Spaces’

News /
5 October 2011

Shelley Roberts, Melbourne Architecture Annual (MA|A) curator and architect, will appear on Channel 31’s Sacred Spaces’ tonight to take viewers on a guided tour of her favourite piece of architecture, the Hero Apartments in Melbourne’s CBD.

The episode screening at 8pm tonight (Wednesday 5th October) will be the first of the show’s third season, which places a particular emphasis on the women in architecture who don’t always get the profile they deserve. ‘Sacred Spaces’ is a celebration of Melbourne’s architecture seen through the eyes of architects themselves, says producer Glen Noble.

Ms Roberts likens the ‘vertical community’ in Hero to an old-style village where residents all know each other and are involved in each other’s lives. She lived in the Hero apartments for many years and brought up her daughter there, saying the city parks became their backyard, the city laneways their playground. The rich sense of community in Hero was actively encouraged by the design of the apartment building.

“The main difference with the building is that residents can actually travel between floors”, says Ms Roberts. “Some buildings only allow access to your own floor, but having access to other floors allows people to visit each other without going all the way downstairs to the ground and then all the way back up to visit someone”.

Such access between floors encourages a community spirit that is often lacking in apartment buildings. It was this sense of community within the apartment that really made Hero special for Ms Roberts. “Pretty much everyone knows everyone else,” she says. “People don’t usually move out, they actually move within the building”.

“The Hero apartment building in the centre of the city is home because it encapsulates a community of people who live in these buildings and how they interact with each other. This is home as much as a place out in the suburbs with a picket fence and two acres”, says Mr Noble.

The theme of MA|A is ‘Home, and Ms Roberts’s brief as curator is to engage with the wider public in conversation about what makes a ‘home’, and how to make our cities more liveable now and into the future. She says we need to re-think how our cities are designed and built. Liveability within a city is greatly enhanced where community spirit is strong.

Good architecture, design and planning can help facilitate interaction between people, and create a space where they can meet other people and develop lasting connections. In doing so they help create a safer city, says Ms Roberts.

A strong sense of community makes people feel safer because they know their neighbours and have a connection with them, and feel that there is someone looking out for them.

MA|A runs from Monday 24 to Sunday 30 October celebrating architecture, design and liveability.

Visit http://www.melbournearchitecture.org for more information.

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