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Beyond the 1968 Battle between Housing Commission, Victoria, and the Residential Associations: Uncovering the Ultra Positions of Melbourne Social Housing

conference contribution
posted on 2022-09-30, 00:38 authored by Elsie Telford, Akari Nakai KiddAkari Nakai Kidd, Ursula De Jong
In 1968, the Housing Commission, Victoria, built a series of high-rise towers in response to an identified metropolitan planning issue: urban sprawl and the outward growth of metropolitan Melbourne. This
“solution” precipitated a crisis in urban identity. The construction of the first of a series of these modern high rise towers at Debney Park Estate, Carlton and Park Towers, South Melbourne displaced significant immigrant communities. This became the impetus for the formation of Residential Associations who perceived this project a major threat to existing cultural values pertaining to social and built heritage.

This paper examines the extremely polarising events and the positions of both the Housing Commission and the Residential Associations over the course of fifteen years from 1968. The research is grounded in an historical review of government papers and statements surrounding the social housing towers, as well as scholarly articles, including information gathered by Renate Howe and the Urban Activists Project (UAP, 2003-
2004). The historical review contextualises the dramatically vocal and well-publicised positions of the Residential Associations and the Housing Commission by reference to the wider social circumstances and the views of displaced community groups. Looking beyond the drama of the heated debate sparked by this crisis, the paper exposes nuances within the positions, investigates the specifics of the lesser known opinions of displaced residents and seeks to re-evaluate the influence of the towers on the establishment of an inner urban community identity.







274 - 284




Adelaide, Australia

Place of publication

Adelaide, Australia

Start date


End date






Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed


David Kroll, James Curry, Madeline Nolan

Title of proceedings

Ultra: Positions and Polarities Beyond Crisis