Urban Initiatives was founded by Bruce Echberg in 1981, at a time when landscape architecture and urban design were fledgling professions in Australia. He was inspired by exposure to progressive city and community design thinking in Europe in the 1970s which centred around the belief that low-cost design interventions could have a huge impact on social wellbeing. Bruce looked to establish a practice emulating these same ideals.
With a group of emerging Melbourne Landscape and Urban Design practices, he shared an interdisciplinary space housing architects, graphic designers and planners, among other design professionals. That office, a ‘design incubator’ decades ahead of its time, became a centre for the exchange of ideas, graduating what are now several of Melbourne’s best-known practitioners. It was key to establishing a way of working for Urban Initiatives which held collaboration, advocacy and open-mindedness at its heart.
This practice philosophy lives on in our studio today under the directorship of Tim Hart. We continue to pride ourselves on an approach which embraces sustained learning, creativity and innovation. We highly value the dynamic and open working relationships we hold with our many repeat clients and with our colleagues across the disciplines, and believe that these diverse inputs contribute significantly to fuller design outcomes.
Holding to these ideals means that our projects, whether high-profile and more modest, have been responsible for positive and enduring impact on communities and their environments.
And so, much as we began, we continue to advocate for the power of design as a catalyst for fundamental change.