Cities are not designed. While architects, urban designers, landscape architects and other design disciplines contribute to the discourse of the contemporary city, a dominant paradigm is economic and planning orthodoxies. Ultimately, these shape the way the city is imagined and directed.

To critically engage with the future form of cities, we need to fundamentally rethink the underlying principles of what constitutes a good city in the 21st Century.


This proposal will exhibit a series of alternative visions for the future city that are predicated on a counterfactual notion – a singular ‘what if?’ scenario that presents a radical alternative to the existing status quo.

The event is an exhibition of design work, exhibited through catalyst posters, exhibited in laneways, on building sites and infrastructure across Melbourne. In doing this we intend to present to the public a series of possible futures for cities that depart from the prevailing orthodoxies of urban design, and the importance of design led approaches to city making.

Staff in the Architecture and Urban Design Cities Research Cluster Group will produce the “The Counterfactual City” posters. They all tackle a variety of topics that relate to existing invisible forces such as planning policies, government framework and Acts.

This event is part of Melbourne Design Week 2020, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

View the full program at designweek.melbourne