Co Designing Urban Resilience
Cities face increasing frequency, duration and intensity of acute shocks, such as storms, and chronic stresses, such as economic inequality. Multiple and overlapping hazards threaten to disrupt lives, livelihoods and progress towards sustainable development. Shocks and stresses are interdependent, further increasing the complexity of challenges to be addressed. For example, the chronic stress of poverty can exacerbate the impact of the acute shock of extreme heat on vulnerable individuals and families; flooding can cause infrastructure failures through disruption to power, water and transport networks. The complexity of urban hazards mean that they cannot be addressed by any single agency, sector or discipline. Working with stakeholders and communities is an essential part of developing strategies, policies and programs for resilience to complex hazards in cities.
Our work is underpinned by co-design principles and methods. Our purpose is to:
- Co-produce research and innovation outcomes to enhance the resilience of the City of Melbourne
- Contribute world-class, scholarly research on sustainable, resilient and healthy cities
- Demonstrate a constructive, dynamic relationship between the university and the city, as an international model of best practice
Urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to adapt, survive and thrive no matter what kind of chronic stresses and acute shocks we experience, and to positively transform as a result. The Urban Resilience and Innovation Program in the Melbourne Centre for Cities interrogates the relationships between urban decision-making and resilience, using action research in partnership with the City of Melbourne and key stakeholders. The Urban Resilience Framework for Local Government underpins the Urban Resilience and Innovation Program, highlighting the core qualities of resilient urban systems as: prepared, robust, spare capacity, diverse, reflective, integrated, inclusive, flexible, future-focused, and innovative.
Co-design is based on the principles that an end-user of a particular design has the right to have a voice in the design process. Engaging stakeholders, communities and users in design and delivery of urban systems is essential to improve urban and community resilience. Our co-design approach draws on the Bottom-Up Infrastructure method.
Our Co-designing Urban Resilience work program has two main themes:
- Retrofitting cities for resilience to climate, biodiversity and public health emergencies. Visit the Retrofit Lab for more information.
- Climate justice involving vulnerable communities in decisions about social and technical actions to improve climate resilience.
University of Melbourne Researchers and Staff
Professor Bell’s work connects the urban resilience and innovation activities of both the City and the University, providing scholarship and research that strengthens policy responses and community engagement.
Professor Sarah Bell joined the University in 2021 as the City of Melbourne Chair in Urban Resilience and Innovation. Prior to this, Sarah worked for 16 years at University College London as Professor of Environmental Engineering with The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources in University College London (UCL). Professor Bell is a leader in the field of urban water sustainability and is distinguished by her attention to the transdisciplinary nature of the challenge of sustainability. Her scholarly work draws on the social sciences to better understand how people, technologies and nature interact to create urban systems.
She is a Fellow of Engineers Australia. Her PhD in Sustainability and Technology Policy is from Murdoch University and she studied Engineering and Science as an undergraduate at the University of Western Australia.
View complete list of scholarly outputs for the City of Melbourne Chair in Urban Resilience and Innovation via Find an Expert
NEW BOOK! Co-Designing Infrastructures: Community collaboration for liveable cities
Co-designing Infrastructures tells the story of a research programme designed to bring the power of engineering and technology into the hands of grassroots community groups, to create bottom-up solutions to global crises.
Circle Distinguished Lecture Series: Co-designing Urban Resilience
This lecture outlines the Bottom-Up Infrastructure co-design method as it was developed through case studies of urban drainage, the water-energy-food nexus and air pollution
Award for Planning Research Excellence, 'Benchmarking Healthy and Sustainable Cities Globally'
Dr Melanie Lowe, along with colleagues at RMIT and ACU, was awarded the Planning Institute of Australia (Victoria) Award for Planning Research Excellence, for the project 'Benchmarking Healthy and Sustainable Cities Globally'
City of Melbourne Chair in Urban Resilience and Innovation Impact Report 2021 - 2022
Professor Sarah Bell commenced as City of Melbourne Chair on 1 February 2021 and is working to connect the urban resilience and innovation activities of both the City and the University. Read the 2021 - 2022 Urban Resilience and Innovation Impact Report here
The Retrofit Lab
The Retrofit Lab is a Research and Innovation Laboratory activating the transition of Melbourne's buildings, infrastructure and landscapes for a healthy, sustainable, and resilient city
Australian Cities Failing on Walkability
The World Heath Organization has set targets to promote physical activity but an international study shows Australian cities are built around cars rather than encouraging walking
Rapid retrofit research to help get workers back to the office
The City of Melbourne has unveiled an innovative new project to minimise COVID-19 transmission in office buildings by retrofitting ventilation systems. The pilot research project ‘BREATH’ will trial and evaluate different ventilation systems in a vacant CBD building, in partnership with the University of Melbourne and CBUS Property.
The Lancet Global Health
Dr Melanie Lowe at the Melbourne Centre for Cities is lead author of the first paper in the series, and co-author on the other four papers.
Launch of The Lancet Global Health Series on Urban Design, Transport and Health
The Lancet Global Health hosted an on-line global webinar to present the series’ findings and a panel discussion
Global Observatory of Healthy and Sustainable Cities
A global, multi-institutional, transdisciplinary initiative providing evidence-based spatial and urban policy indicators to advocate for and track progress towards healthy and sustainable cities for all.
Putting communities at the heart of engineering design and decision-making to create resilient and sustainable environments under conditions of uncertainty
Urban resilience for local government: Issues Paper
This Issues Paper provides an overview of the concepts, definitions, and qualities of urban resilience to better understand how to address the challenges of the future with the ideas of today.
- Issues Paper
Urban resilience for local government: Briefing Paper
Urban resilience has emerged and rapidly developed as a concept to assist cities to respond to acute shocks and chronic stresses. This briefing paper, which accompanies a more detailed Issues Paper, provides an overview of the main concepts, definitions and qualities of resilience.
- Briefing Paper
Urban Resilience: What's next for Melbourne?
As Melbourne emerges from one of the world's longest lockdowns under COVID-19 restrictions, what have we learnt about the resilience of cities to shocks and stresses? What lessons can we draw for future challenges, such as the task of decarbonising our cities and industries, or coping with the impacts of climate change?
Flooding, fires, the pandemic and other disasters have recently tested the resilience of Victoria’s communities, infrastructure, environment and economy. Resilience Roundtables are a series of discussions to share knowledge about work to improve resilience across the state. Hosted by the University of Melbourne, Resilience Roundtables will bring together professionals, policy-makers, community leaders and researchers. The meetings will be 1:00pm - 2:00pm on the third Thursday of every month, at the University of Melbourne and on-line.
Intended Audience: The roundtables aim to create a community of practice for resilience practitioners and researchers in Victoria. We encourage local government , state government, community, emergency management, consultants, academics and those interested in the resilience space to attend.
regional approaches to retrofit
This session focuses on research collaboration for grounded, localised approaches to resilient housing in regional Victoria. The presenters will discuss topics focused on resilience based retrofit, the Housing Energy Efficiency Transitions project, assessments and guides for households, and the advantages of expanding housing infrastructure improvements for the public.
- Alison Whitten, Director of the Castlemaine Institute
- Trivess Moore, Senior Lecturer School of Property, Construction and Project Management at RMIT University
Thursday, 16 Nov 1:00-2:00 AEST
Online: Via Zoom- Join on your computer or mobile app
In person: The Dean's Conference Room, L1 room 102,
The University of Melbourne
Resilience Data to Strategy
(Postponed to 2024)
- Dr Tom Logan, Pūkenga Matua o Pūnaha Metarahi, Senior Lecturer in Civil Systems Engineering, University of Canterbury, Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
- Hayley Jarvis, Senior Resilience Officer, Climate & Resilience, Transport & Sustainability at Wyndham City Council
- Helen Kerley, Coordinator Climate & Resilience, Climate & Resilience, Transport & Sustainability at Wyndham City Council
Water: Enabling Resilience and Urban Cooling
This session sets out to demonstrate that smart IoT irrigation and misting systems can contribute to cooler and greener residential environments. Cooler surrounds leads to lower housing energy costs, healthier people, and happier communities.
Wed, 19 October, 1:00-2:00 AEST
Resilience in Melbourne
- David Sweeting, Co-Manager, City Resilience and Sustainable Futures (CoM)
- Professor Sarah Bell , City of Melbourne Chair in Urban Resilience and Innovation (UoM)
Resilience outcomes in the Yarra Ranges and the opportunities and obstacles of urban planning
- Dr Alan March, Professor of Urban Planning and Disaster Risk Reduction (UoM),
- Esther Gallois, Strategy Evaluation Consultant for Organisational Strategy at Yarra Ranges Council
- Rob Cornish, Executive Officer of Organisational Strategy at Yarra Ranges Council
- Lisa Keedle, Executive Officer of Emergency Management at Yarra Ranges Council
Meeting the Challenges of a Multi-Disaster World