Futuring Port Hedland
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The civic expansion of Port Hedland requires a thinking beyond the life span of the mining boom. Perhaps the answer lies in “urmadic” design. Through its exporting of iron ore and material from the other extractive industries in north-west Western Australia, Port Hedland has become the largest bulk export port in the world. Handling just under two hundred million tonnes in 2010/11, the Port Hedland Port Authority has now set a target to at least double this volume, but to do this requires the building of a new outer harbour. Meanwhile, dredging is already underway to increase existing port capacity. Before the city expands its fate is already sealed. The mineral resources of the region are finite and are likely to be exhausted either this century or next. Effectively, an ultimate exodus of people is a structural condition of the place – the boomtown can and will become a doom-town. This situation is not exclusive to Port Hedland. The eventual decline of the export of the mineral wealth of Australia will have similar consequences in many other places. To recognize this is to realize that another kind of approach to urban design is needed. Two key and related questions now beg to be addressed. The first: How do we appropriately design rapidly expanding cities that have a short life? The second: How do we also design for their future after the mining boom is over?
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Studies in Creative Arts and Writing