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Exhibition seeks to capture the essence of a suburb

Brunswick means different things to different people but the one constant is change

Research assistant Nhu Bui at the PlaceLab exhibition with a copy of My Brunswick, Our Brunswick.

Poppy Searle
Friday, December 15, 2023

SIX months ago, researchers from RMIT’s PlaceLab set out to answer the question what makes Brunswick, Brunswick?

Their mission was to understand what defines Brunswick, its evolving landscape, and its unique characteristics in the face of transformative urban developments like the Level Crossing Removal Project.

The results of their inquiries are now available in an exhibition until December 20 at PlaceLab in Union Street called Voice, Vibe & Vision, and in an accompanying book, My Brunswick, Our Brunswick.

The exhibition is a culmination of meticulous research. The team has collected a wealth of insights by engaging directly with community members, RMIT students, and various stakeholders through methods such as mood surveys, walking interviews, and community workshops.

“Our goal was to capture the different elements that define Brunswick’s special character, like its sounds, images, stories, and imaginings,” explains research assistant Nhu Bui. “The heart of our project is the book My Brunswick, Our Brunswick, which outlines all aspects of our findings.”

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The project unearthed several key themes through its research. Central among these were change and inclusion, reflecting the evolving nature of Brunswick and its diverse community. The findings emphasised the need for a careful approach to urban planning, advocating for spaces where residents can shape their environment.

The research highlighted a strong community preference for more green spaces, emphasising the importance of nature in urban settings, and underscored the need for safe and equitable transportation options for all residents.

The project also revealed a desire to weave Brunswick’s rich history with its present and future narratives, ensuring that the suburb’s heritage is preserved and allowed to evolve with the community. This delicate balance between holding onto the past and embracing change is crucial in maintaining the unique fabric of the neighbourhood, particularly in an era marked by rapid infrastructure and demographic shifts.

Researchers give Brunswick’s clothing industry a second life

Voice, Vibe & Vision shines a light on the strength of community collaboration and the depth of local stories. The work of RMIT PlaceLab underlines the vital role of diverse voices in guiding the suburb’s future, effectively connecting academic research with the community’s heartbeat in a way that resonates and inspires.

Visitors are invited to delve into the residents’ myriad experiences and perspectives. The walking interviews, featuring locals such as Max Malone from That Paper Joint, tell the stories that formed the basis for the community collage workshops.

“These conversations offered a rich tapestry of Brunswick’s life,” Nhu reflects. “For locals, it’s about rediscovering the beauty around them, and it’s an invitation to see Brunswick through a fresh lens.”

Voice, Vibe & Vision runs alongside another exhibition from a con-current research project, Wear & Care, which explored how we experience fashion and a potential future for Brunswick as a centre for fashion “rewilding”.

The exhibitions are open until 20 December, but the PlaceLab team has ensured broader access after they close and for anyone unable to make it to the gallery, ensuring the project’s impact extends beyond the exhibition’s duration.

“We’re making the resources available online and distributing them in local libraries and cafes,” Nhu said.

RMIT PlaceLab is open during business hours at shop 1, 17 Union Street, near Jewell Station.

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