Mount Arapiles: Gateway to the West Wimmera - Strategic Forum - Mitre Town Hall, Mitre, November 2015

A public forum was held in Mitre, at the Mitre Public Hall on Friday 6 November 2015. Design work produced as outcomes of this research project was exhibited in the hall, presented by Ass. Prof. Arch. Mauro Baracco and Jonathan Ware. The former discussed strategic thinking and design approach techniques tested by the projects and the research laboratory in general with the aim to transform and reactivate existing natural and urban assets of the Wimmera region into potential destinations related to ecotourism and everyday 'green' economies. The latter presented the exhibited works more in detail, focussing on speculative aspects of these projects: from hiking/cycling trails to reactivation of vacant infrastructures (such as the Carpolac dismissed railway line and related grain silos) and buildings (such as: shops along Goroke's main street), and the regeneration of wetlands and other natural open spaces in correlation with sustainable economies. Representatives of all partners involved with the research laboratory - Robyn Evans from the West Wimmera Shire Council, Tony Bawden from the Horsham Rural City Council, Ron Dodds from Habitat 141, Jess Gardner from Greening Australia and Zoe Wilkinson from Parks Victoria - talked and highlighted the significance of these studies. In addition to the specific partners of this project, representatives from land-care and other government organisations (such as Trust for Nature, Tourism Victoria, and Regional Arts Victoria among others) attended the forum and contributed in putting forward ideas and strategic directions for extending the current investigations into further feasibility studies and future implementation. On Saturday 7 November the exhibition remained open to the public.


Urban Case Studies in West Wimmera - Border Inn Hotel, Apsley, November 2014

The exhibition and round table/question-answer session at the Border Inn was in its way a clear manifestation of cross-programming and integration of different activities as a strategy that is consistently put forward by the projects envisaged for the West Wimmera region. For one weekend the Border Inn Hotel has been operating as a 'cultural/social condenser' and 'community hub' in addition to its usual hospitality activities, directly testing the overarching ideas of these projects based on over-layering of activities as a strategy for maximising community engagement and degrees of efficiency through the running of business activities in expanded and dispersed territorial contexts.

The exhibition consisted of projects that regenerate architectural and landscape spaces for some towns in the Wimmera; Apsley, Edenhope, Goroke, Mitre and Natimuk. These projects reactivate existing buildings and infrastructures, integrating them with new interventions. A background wall of photographs documenting natural and urban environments in the Wimmera was an integral part of the exhibition.

A round table at the Border Inn Hotel, with presentations by Brigitte Muir, first Australian woman to climb Mt Everest, currently living in the Wimmera region, and Ass. Prof. Arch. Mauro Baracco from RMIT University, was held on Sunday 16 November in the form of a Q&A debate. Topics discussed include urban, social and economic resilience in communities with current declining populations. Examples of positive and successful business that do already operate through the region, and visions to address and shift the current decline trends were shared and discussed around the round table and with the wider audience in the room. Potential further partnerships between WWSC and RMIT were envisaged by Mauro Baracco - these could somehow operate through an open research laboratory based in the West Wimmera that is focused on urban, social and economic regeneration.


Edenhope: Urban Renewal In Wetlands - Red Tail Gallery, Edenhope, November 2014

The exhibition at the Red Tail Gallery included architectural and landscape projects focused on urban regenerations and landscape interventions for some areas of Edenhope. The exhibition also included some scale models of the projects together with photographs of contemporary international projects of urban regeneration and a map of the West Wimmera that envisions potential sustainable activities and related economic opportunities. Community and market activities, together with display of material correlated to the theme of the exhibition - wetland maps and photos at the Kowree Farm Tree Group shop, and drawings of 'dream house in wetlands' produced by students from the primary schools of Edenhope and Apsley - were organised as integral and correlated events to the exhibition. Some parts of the main street engaged physically and conceptually with the ideas of the integrated programs that informed the exhibited projects. Floor talks were held by the WWSC Mayor Annette Jones, RMIT Ass. Prof. Arch. Mauro Baracco, and Kowree Farm Tree Group president Andrew Bradey.