This paper explores Ruth and Maurie Crow’s contribution to Melbourne’s strategic planning history. It focuses on the 1960s and 70s, when deliberation over future growth patterns for Melbourne dominated urban planning discussion. During this period, multiple models of urban expansion were considered by the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works, the Town and Country Planning Board, residents’ associations and the Town and Country Planning Association. The Crows contributed to this transitional moment by proposing a future linear city based on social and ecological values outlined in their three-volume Plan for Melbourne. Rather than eulogising the suburbs, and equally not advocating higher densities as necessarily humanising in themselves, the Crows were early champions of functional mix and compact urban development in Melbourne. More significantly, their work reflects a prescient awareness of the need to design urban landscapes to maximise the potential for social interaction. The MMBW rejected the Crows’ linear city on the grounds of its physical aspects, without proper acknowledgement of the radical implications that ‘clustering’, ‘concourse’ and ‘collectives’ could have on urban flourishing. Relying on both published and unpublished archival material, this paper excavates the spatial justice claims underpinning the Crows’ planning imaginary, arguing that re-visiting these past city futures can provide a counterbalance with which to question contemporary planning ambition.
The author 2018
Proceedings of the 14th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2018