Footscray as a uni town: the possibilities

"Cities around the world that integrate with their local universities try to punch above their weight, have foresight, tell a story, are bold enough to have a dream and make the invisible visible."

So said Charles Landry, international authority on creative urban change, at a free Footscray University Town public discussion at VU's Footscray Nicholson campus on 5 November.

Other speakers were MGS Architects founding partner Rob McGauran - who has worked closely with VU and Maribyrnong City Council on Footscray University Town program planning - and Susan Street, Executive Director of Queensland University of Technology Precincts.

Landry’s conclusion after a whirlwind tour of Footscray was that “the diversity is astonishing”. Of the many cities he has seen that integrate with universities, he said, those that worked were places of choice, physical connections, family and possibilities. The prominent ‘The city is our campus’ sign in Denver, USA, for example, sent the clear message that there was no distinction between city and university.

Rob McGauren said Footscray is a rich, diverse, urban space with many of the features international students are looking for. “It’s cheap to get a great meal and it’s close to services and jobs,” he said.

It could be improved by making students visible, walking and moving between campuses through the town centre, improving public transport facilities at key locations and by blurring the edges between campuses and the town centre through events and collaborations. He gave examples of where this has happened in Seattle, USA, where student housing is in the city making students the eyes of the city.

All three speakers agreed that developing into a university town took time, collaboration and community consultation.

Footscray University Town events

This event was one a range of Footscray Uni Town events brought to you as part of the ongoing Footscray University Town partnership between VU and Maribyrnong City Council. 

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