The design speculation and action research assemblage: ‘transit for all’ and the transformation of Melbourne's passenger rail system


Ian Woodcock

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, place - urban, mode - rail, planning - network design, infrastructure - interchange/transfer, infrastructure - station, land use - planning, land use - urban design


Assemblage, design research, rail, stations, grade separations, Melbourne


The planning problems of neo-liberal cities require theories and methods that are adequate to the task of engaging as well as understanding their fragmented opacity. This paper reports on research that combines well-established processes of action research and design studio teaching with more recent interest in assemblage theory. ‘Transit for All’ was a recent industry–university research collaboration investigating railway station design in Melbourne. The project illustrates ‘the design speculation action research assemblage’ as a tool for creative as well as critical thinking. Framed by the need to find ways to achieve significant modal shift toward active transport in a car-dependent city, the project brought 15 industry partners from state and local government, transport companies and the design sector together around a series of architectural and urban design studios for real sites. The outcomes of the project allow a deeper understanding of how transformative the focus on the relationship between network planning, urban renewal, interchange design and the removal of level crossings could be in bringing Melbourne's 19th century rail system into the 21st century.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.