Peripheral centralities: lost, past, present and future

Prof. Nicholas Phelps, Dr Paul Maginn, and Prof. Roger Keil

Funding period: 1 June 2021 – 1 December 2022
Type of funding: Seminar Series

Host institution: Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne (USA)
Dates: June 2021 (Melbourne) and April 2022 (AAG Conference, New York City)
Lead organisers: Prof. Nicholas Phelps (University of Melbourne), Dr Paul Maginn (University of Western Australia), and Prof. Roger Keil (York University)
Contact: Prof. Nicholas Phelps

Twitter: Nicholas Phelps @TheBigNA | Paul Maginn @planographer | Roger Keil @rkeil

Abstract: Historically, the suburban peripheries of cities have been more central to the urban imagination and development processes than often appreciated. And, they have been more ‘urban’ than often appreciated in the label suburban. Stereotypes of the Anglo-American suburb have never been entirely accurate in their subordination of the suburb to the city nor encapsulated the variations in density, housing morphology and land uses found in suburban environments worldwide (Harris and Vorms, 2017; Keil, 2017). By focusing on lost, past, present and future peripheral centralities, this seminar series offers a defined and theoretically-concrete contribution to efforts to move urban studies beyond ‘methodological cityism’ (Brenner, 2018).

Suburban peripheries have afforded the physical and imaginative space for planned extensions to medieval cities, satellites of the industrial city and new towns of the modern era. The centrality of urban peripheries has been recognized in writings focusing on the global north: since the 1960s by urban planners and geographers (Dear and Dahmann, 2008; Soja, 2000), urban historians (Harris and Larkham, 1999). The future possibilities for greater density, walkability and, ultimately, urbanity of the suburbs have been heralded by architects interested to retrofit elements of suburbia (Dunham-Jones and Williamson, 2009) and planners/geographers interested in suburban regeneration (Ruming, 2018).

This series will have two international academic seminars – one focusing on lost and past examples and analysis of peripheral centralities and one focusing on the present and future prospects for greater centrality in urban peripheries. It will have one policy-facing seminar intended to speak to the challenges of planning centrality in Australia’s outer suburbs. It will have one seminar focused on supporting early career urban studies researchers in Australia with their publishing and career development.