Expert guides to managing a city

By Khiara Elliott

A conversation at MPavilion saw top minds discuss the relationship between community and city on February 10.

Influential urban architect Jan Gehl, chief executive officer of the City of Sydney Monica Barone and director of city design at City of Melbourne Rob Adams, came together for “A Tale of Three Cities”. Melbourne-based architect Shelley Penn managed the conversation.

All speakers agreed that for cities to become successful urban environments, their community must be considered during every step of the way.

Ms Barone said 18 months of public consultation would shape the way the Sustainable Sydney 2030 project would transform her city.

“The lesson is: you’ve got to go back to the people. It’s the citizens that have to determine what’s important in the city and it is the role of administrators to protect the public interest in that process,” she said.

According to Mr Gehl, Copenhagen’s community has been very involved with the city its early stages.

He said that since the 1960s, universities in Copenhagen were carefully studying the way that built form impacted the way people used the city.

This information was then presented to politicians to note how the city was developing through the eyes of its users.

“It’s about changing the mindset of leaders before you can change the cities,” he said.

Throughout his time as director of city design, Mr Adams said he had learned that changing a city takes a long time and that change is again, the result of a collaborative effort.

“The actions that take place slowly through the statutory planners, through the traffic engineers, through the people in parks and gardens are the actions that enrich our city over time,” he said.

Former Olympic athlete and chief commissioner of the City of Melbourne Kevan Gosper, spoke in February to Henley Club members about the principles he learnt through his career in athletics and how he applied them to his career in city management.

The first important principle Mr Gosper noted was recovery from defeat.

“I learnt that if you didn’t win a race, or you didn’t win a contract in business or you didn’t win an argument in diplomacy, you’d better get over it very quickly,” he said.

Mr Gosper also discussed how imperative it was to have a good team of people around you and how important it was to listen. He learned the importance of listening to not only those on your team, but those in his community also.

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