Under the theme "The Long View", the annual architecture and design forum considered the implications of varying ways of perceiving and measuring time – including from the perspective of Australia's First Nations people and the long scale of geological processes.
Living Cities Forum took place online on 23 July 2021, with speakers including architect Anupama Kundoo and designer Maarten Gielen appearing at a mix of keynote lectures, cross-disciplinary panel discussions and Q&As.
Session One addressed the event's theme, with Aboriginal Australian author Bruce Pascoe, a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man who has chronicled Indigenous architecture, technology and farming practices.
He was joined by British philosopher Timothy Morton, who argued for a radical rethink of how humans relate to animals and nature, and Aboriginal Australian architect Sarah Lynn Rees, who descends from the Plangermaireener and Trawlwoolway people of north-east Tasmania and curates the BLAKitecture forum.
Session Two, titled "Real Time – precarity, ownership and structural disparities" was anchored by a keynote address from the Australian-born artist and environmental engineer Tega Brain, whose previous work included systems for obfuscating fitness data and an online smell-based dating service.
Session Three, "Over and Over Again — circularity, reharvesting and re-education" brought together Kundoo and Gielen to discuss new sustainable approaches to city-making.
In Session Four, MAP Studio revealed its designs for 2021's MPavilion, Living Cities Forum's sister event. Both are presented by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.
Started in 2017, Living Cities Forum aims to influence urban development in Australia by bringing in perspectives from across society and representing different realms of knowledge.
The Naomi Milgrom Foundation hopes to test old ways of thinking and pave the way for new design approaches with the event.
"The Living Cities Forum and MPavilion do an astounding job of raising the level of public discourse about the built environment," said architect and 2019 guest speaker Mabel O. Wilson.
"Perhaps if we think about future needs in relation to where we are now and have been, taking stock of past needs, then our imagination might hold the seeds for a future that is just and equitable."
The 2021 Living Cities Forum was moved online after new coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne meant the live event, scheduled for The Edge theatre at Federation Square, could not go ahead.
All of the 2021 sessions are available to view online for free on the Living Cities Forum website.
This article was written by Dezeen for Living Cities Forum as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here