A key step in developing the Step-by-Step Guide and Design Principles was to go out and directly speak to Melbourne’s laneway members.

Empathetic understanding is core to our practice. We seek to understand and deliver projects at a ‘real’ and ‘human’ level. 

In the context of design, this means providing an environment in which differing views can be heard and valued. We find that this is a gentle and effective way to build a shared understanding between people who come from different points of view.

Research in Melbourne, Australia 

The City of Melbourne recognised the potential of ‘greening’ laneways to bring together local residents and visitors, as well as offer them a respite from the ‘hustle and bustle’ of inner city living. This marked the birth of the ‘Green your Laneway’ program in 2015.

Four ‘pilot’ laneways were nominated and funded to be transformed into leafy, green useable spaces for everyone to enjoy. City residents, building owners and businesses all played a role in helping select the first pilot laneways for the program. The Council is now investigating how every laneway in the city can benefit from green infrastructure and how the program can be scaled to engage local communities in co-designing and co-funding local greening projects.

We kicked off our work by sitting down with different members of a ‘typical’ inner city Melbourne laneway. Through our conversations we were able to learn more about who they are, what is important to them, how they connect to their laneway and how they would like future green infrastructure programs to be defined and delivered. 

Overall, we conducted 12 one-on-one interviews with various laneway members in Melbourne. We spoke to:

  • 6x apartment owners and residents
  • 3x businesses (situated in a laneway)
  • 3x industry representatives (commercial real estate agent, strata manager, senior Owner Corporation member/asset manager)

Throughout the project, we closely worked with members of the Urban Sustainability team at the City of Melbourne to discuss our research insights and collaboratively investigate opportunities for the Step-by-Step Guide and future iterations of the ‘Green your Laneway’ program. 

Key learnings from our research are outlined in a set of Research Insights. Refer to these for background context for the Step-by-Step Guide and Design Principles.

Research in Newcastle, U.K.

Our project partners, Arup and Newcastle University, contributed research on the mechanics of crowdfunding and how the approach can be applied to green infrastructure.

Their research set the starting point for our work and encouraged us to seek out green infrastructure crowdfunding projects internationally. We spoke to the founders of two projects (based in the US and Portugal) to learn more how they set up their program using a crowdfunding approach, what their key success factors were, and if they had any learnings and advice on the process.