The implications of climate change and the end of the fossil fuel era suggest that we are entering a period of major, transformative, change requiring the restructure of the most fundamental systems for urban living. But rapid structural change is hard to negotiate within existing communities.
In Melbourne Australia, a research unit known as the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) has developed a unique process to co-create visions for a 25 year horizon for specific urban communities in response to climate change. The need to bring that process from vision to intervention, to catalyse rapid transformation of an existing urban environment, has produced a new program – Eco-Acupuncture – for work with local precincts in metropolitan Melbourne and regional communities. Eco-Acupuncture focuses on multiple small interventions in an existing urban precinct that can shift the community's ideas of what is permissible, desirable and possible and provide transformation points for a new trajectory of development to a resilient low-carbon future.
The paper describes the context and evolution of the program and the framework developed to deliver new locally specific starting points for urban transformation, a process involving academic researchers and designers, a shifting network of professional designers, many hundreds of design masters students, representatives of local government, business and the wider community.