Bordered by narrow streets and bluestone laneways, the inner city courtyard has long been a mainstay of metropolitan Australia. These often underutilised sanctuaries provide a small but necessary outdoor extension to our urban landscape. But take a walk around the inner suburbs of our cities and you’ll notice the humble courtyard no longer typifies the smallest of outdoor urban spaces.
“If every city dweller introduced more plants into their outdoor spaces, the positive impact on local biodiversity would be profound.” – Carolynn Brooks, The Small Garden
Multi-level apartment blocks pepper the skyline, ostensibly growing from the rubble of former single dwellings, shopfronts and industrial lots. Small balconies protrude from equally small apartments and it now seems that, whatever the size of the block, the dwelling covers most of its developable area. In fact, in 2015 a report by former City of Melbourne planner, Leanne Hodyl, revealed that high-rise apartments are being built in Melbourne at four times the maximum densities allowed in major cities like New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo.