Living Cities Forum 2018: Shaping Society

by Tiffany Paczek
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The Naomi Milgrom Foundation has announced the second edition of the new initiative Living Cities Forum, bringing together leading international architects and design thinkers. This year’s theme ‘Shaping Society’ extends the conversation by exploring the forces that form our cities – examining Melbourne’s changing urban landscape and design’s potential as a catalyst. Featuring celebrated architect and MPavilion 2018 designer Carme Pinós of Estudio Carme Pinós (Barcelona), along with a select group of international experts, the forum will take place on 26 July 2018 and is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and Development Victoria.

The Living Cities Forum explores the role of design, planning and architecture in shaping our society. If it can be said that political, economic, technological and social forces shape our cities and streets, buildings and places, is the inverse also true? Can we shape these larger forces through architecture and urban design? Do generous buildings and thoughtful spaces make good citizens or encourage inclusive communities? Can architecture win elections or create new economies?

This year’s forum theme, ‘Shaping Society’, extends the conversation beyond 2017’s focus on ‘liveability’ to explore how design contributes to social well-being and urban transformation. At its core, the theme suggests that how people engage with designed urban spaces influences social behaviour, realities and expectations.

With its foundation set in the context of Melbourne’s changing urban landscape, this year’s forum features a select group of internationally recognised urban thinkers – including MPavilion 2018 architect, the eminent humanist Carme Pinós – who together will demonstrate how design can provide space for empathy, understanding and cooperation within the city.

Naomi Milgrom AO, founder of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation who initiated the forum, says: “It’s wonderful to see the Living Cities Forum take place again in Melbourne. The forum investigates ideas around future cities­, and the social, economic and cultural role of great design. We are excited that Carme Pinós will bring a humanist and community approach to the discussion.”

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley acknowledged the instrumental role of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation in bringing leading local and international design thinkers together in Melbourne. “Melbourne is the perfect case study for a conversation about how innovative design can shape community thinking and impact the way we live, connect and interact with each other,” he says. “I look forward to welcoming our leading design thinkers to the world’s most liveable city to explore the role design can play in shaping our future – both globally and right here in our creative state.”

Shaping Society delves beyond Melbourne’s official status as the ‘world’s most liveable city’ and the broader definition for what liveability might entail. The forum promises to explore Melbourne’s changing urban landscape and how streets and spaces, buildings and places play an essential role in shaping society.

An awarded architect renowned for social services, keynote speaker Pinós is celebrated for urban master plans, social housing, public works and educational facilities. Widely recognised for redefining architecture and community, she has garnered a worldwide appreciation in tandem with the rise of modern architecture in Barcelona increasingly growing in influence and reputation throughout Europe, South, Central and North America, and beyond.

Living Cities Forum is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, Development Victoria and is presented by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation in partnership with Open House Melbourne with the assistance of Melbourne School of Design, Monash University, RMIT University, Australian Institute of Architects and Planning Institute of Australia.

An opportunity to gather global insights into the present and future opportunities, and challenges for cities, Living Cities Forum: Shaping Society will take place on Thursday 26 July at Deakin Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne.

For more information visit

Image: Carme Pinós © Livio Matticchio.

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