Latrobe City

Latrobe, Australia

The narrative of the landscape as a basis for transformation

The economy of the Australian city of Latrobe is highly dependent on the coal mining industry. In 2012, to prepare the city and its community for the future, the municipality and RMIT University Melbourne organised a competition. The proposal by karres+brands provides a strong framework for the transformation from a mono-economy to a society that stands upon several economic pillars—and thereby also centrally positions the population and landscape. In the first place, the landscape is seen as the result of human impact and natural processes that have jointly formed the Latrobe Valley and continue to define it. After all, the interaction between people and nature dictates how the landscape is used and developed, and where and how people live and work. The strategy provides an alternative understanding of the local landscape, its history, and its relationship with its inhabitants.

The proposed strategy assumes that the past forms a basis for the further development of the landscape. The transition is based on steps of pioneering and growth towards an ultimately future-proof landscape. The mines play an important role in the plan as the driving force behind the succession of landscape and strategic ‘acupuncture points’. Like hidden pearls in the landscape, the mines provide for the necessities of food, energy, and water. Food will once again be produced locally, and if coal is no longer profitable, sustainable energy will provide for future energy needs. The local community is at the heart of the strategy. Educational programmes will be linked to the interventions in the mines. In addition, those mines that are privately owned will be transferred to common ownership and as such connected to the local community of Latrobe. Thus, the mines form the anchoring points in the entire transformation process: they provide a unique identity to the cities to which they belong, and give the entire region a new face—as well as a new future.

Project data
Location ​Latrobe, Australia Google Maps
Assignment ​Strategy for a transition from mono-economy to a future-proof society
Size ​7,500 hectare
Design ​2012
Status ​Competition entry
Client ​RMIT University Melbourne, Latrobe City Council
Team ​Bart Brands, Marco Broekman, Darius Reznek, Tomas Degenaar, Jorrit Noordhuizen
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