Grassland Common: Linking Ecology and Architecture


This essay is an excerpt of Repair by Mauro Baracco and Louise Wright from Baracco+Wright Architects. Published by Actar Publishers

Recent examples of urban expansion in Melbourne’s northern growth corridor have cleared extensive areas of native grasslands despite that temperate grasslands are the most threatened ecosystem in Australia.[1] The area is characterised by large scale areas of plains grasslands and grassy woodlands, interspersed with agricultural land and volcanic hills from the top of Craigieburn to the south edge of Wallan, along Merri Creek north catchment area. This unbuilt project proposes a visionary alternative to low dense housing estates that are laid across the landscape of this area specifically,[2] and generally also found in peri-urban development sites on the fringe of Australian cities. It explores the possibility of development coexisting as part of a healthy ecosystem, integrating the new built spaces to a shared public ‘grassland common’ that is kept free from new footprint.


Section drawing of filament development backing onto the road and facing open space.
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Excerpt from:

[1] Australian Government, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities 2011, Nationally Threatened Ecological Communities of the Victorian Volcanic Plains: Natural Temperate Grassland & Grassy Eucalypt Woodland, viewed 10 November 2015, <>.

[2] A large portion of the area of this project is currently being developed by Stockland, under the name of Cloverton, planning to house 30,000 people (11,000 residences) over 114 hectares. See Stockland, n.d., Cloverton – Life at Cloverton, Stockland, viewed 10 January 2018, <>.

[3] For a further description of Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design, see Garrard, G & Bekessy, S 2015, Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design: Creating urban environments that are good for people and good for nature, RMIT University, Centre for Urban Research and The Meyer Foundation, Melbourne, viewed 24 February 2018, <>. BSUD is also discussed in the publication Linking Ecology and Architecture (November 2015, RMIT University, limited edition) that profiles this speculative project and other works by two collaborating schools from RMIT University: School of Architecture and Urban Design (formerly: School of Architecture and Design) and School of Global Urban and Social Studies.

[4] Buxton M, Phelan K & Hurley J 2015, Melbourne at 8 Million: Matching Land Supply to Dwelling Demand, RMIT University, Centre for Urban Research, September, viewed 10 November 2015, <>.