PKB: Under the Viaduct – Neglected Spaces No Longer

The 2018 International Urban Design Conference will be held at the SMC Conference and Function Centre, Sydney, NSW over 12 – 13 November.

The conference will showcase innovations in projects and research embracing and creating transformational change in urban environments.

Joining us at the conference is Matt Knight, Integrated Design and Planning Team Lead at Arup who will present on ‘PKB: Under the Viaduct – Neglected Spaces No Longer’.

Matt Knight,


Under the Viaduct: Neglected Spaces No Longer is a multi-disciplinary research publication involving five Arup offices across the globe and was realised as a co-funded collaboration with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS). The publication focuses on the spaces underneath elevated road and rail viaducts, often ignored or marginalised in the planning and design process, and identifies how, with creative imagination and design skill, such spaces can be put to a wide variety of productive uses. Moreover, it explores the potential for creative reuse of existing viaduct infrastructure ‒ the ‘rooms’ created by bridging infrastructure ‒ as well as the potential to design more purposeful uses of these spaces into new infrastructure.

The research origins were influenced by observations of poorly conceived viaducts around the world – severing communities, creating dead-end streets and lifeless voids – what Jane Jacobs referred to as “border vacuums.” It was also inspired by the panoply of international examples where viaduct undercroft spaces have been successfully activated to create places of immense social, environmental and economic value – whether bars, cafes or nightclubs buzzing with life and acting as a catalyst for wider urban regeneration, or workspaces offering local employment opportunities, or indeed public space, art, play or sports facilities adding much needed community health, wellbeing or cultural facilities.

In addition, the research examines the potential for better utilisation of spaces under both existing viaducts (through retrofitting) and proposed new-build projects (through designing-in activation from the outset). Through an enquiry-by-design approach, the challenges and opportunities of seven international case studies were examined in depth. Drawing upon these case study investigations and inspired international examples of successful viaduct activation, the report summarises a series of findings to help inform future practice with a focus on quality design outcomes.


Matt Knight: • Integrated Design and Planning Team Lead, Arup Feb 2018-Present • Senior Landscape Architect, Arup May 2017-Feb 2018 • Associate Director, Clouston Associates Oct 2016 – Apr 2017 • Associate, Clouston Associates Jul 2015 – Sep 2016 • Infrastructure Portfolio Manager, Clouston Associates Oct 2011-Jun 2015 • Landscape Architect, WS Atkins May 2008- Aug 2011

For more information on the 2018 International Urban Design Conference visit the conference website at



Giving Non-Computational Designers Access to Computational Tools in Urban Planning

The 2018 International Urban Design Conference will be held at the SMC Conference and Function Centre, Sydney, NSW over 12 – 13 November.

The conference will showcase innovations in projects and research embracing and creating transformational change in urban environments.

Joining us at the conference is Dr Matthias Haeusler, Discipline Director Computational Design at the University of New South Wales who will present on ‘UD2: Giraffe – Giving Non-Computational Designers Access to Computational Tools in Urban Planning via a Blockchain Using, Two-Sided Network Platform’.

Dr Matthias Haeusler,


Rapid urbanisation and population growth demand more buildings and infrastructures completed in a shorter time. This can only be achieved through re-engineering the design process and automating repetitive tasks in AEC firms. Yet even if a larger number of computational tools are available than ever before, they are mainly available to i.e. Grasshopper experts. But there is an invention where anyone can access complex computational operations, i.e. machine learning or advanced data search. It’s via a platform called the Internet. The front end of a browser is easy to use and most do not know what computational operations happens in the backend and there is no need to know as it works well for everyone.

What if a similar platform for the AEC industry exists, one where urban planners can make use of advanced tools i.e. one that automates planning regulations and generates a feasible envelop for any cadastral? The presented project is Giraffe, a blockchain using, two-sided network platform for the AEC industry that connects urban designers with computational designers and software engineers. We argue that urban design is a process made out of several phases, each containing a series of repetitive tasks manually executed that, when in sequential order, are easy to automate.

Computational Designers provide custom-made automate tasks specified by the AEC industry and publish them in Giraffe. Urban designers can then upload their model out of their preferred software to Giraffe and Giraffe completes the next task in the cloud within minutes and model can be downloaded back to a preferred software. All interactions are documented through a public ledger to ensures financial and legal integrity. Giraffe will reduce time spend on a project, cost for staff and at the same time free up time to concentrate on your firm’s main asset – Design quality.


Lucy Booth is a Lead Planner at Cox Architecture. Since joining Cox in 2012 she has continued to expand her experience across a range of disciplines and scales, including city-scale strategic planning, urban design and integrated transport planning. Rob Asher has been working with Cox since 2015 working at every stage of the planning and development process. He is also focussed on research in the intersection between design, technology and community participation.

Associate Professor M. Hank Haeusler is Discipline Director of Computational Design/Built Environment at UNSW Sydney; Professor at Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing; board member of the Media Architecture Institute and known as researcher, educator, entrepreneur and designer in media architecture and computational design through over 60 publications.

For more information on the 2018 International Urban Design Conference visit the conference website at



Plan for 6200 Homes in Sydney’s Newest Suburb

A new development precinct planned for Sydney’s north-west growth corridor is set to offer thousands of new homes to Sydneysiders.

The NSW government release of the Marsden Park North masterplan shows 6200 new homes will be built in the precinct over the next 20 years.

The masterplanned community, which will offer a mixture of housing options, sits approximately 12 kilometres from Blacktown CBD and 20 kilometres from Parramatta’s CBD.

Planning and housing minister Anthony Roberts said the plan includes three new local centres, a new primary school, 13 brand new playing fields and more useable open space proposed to benefit residents of the area.

The NSW government’s release of the masterplan proposes more than 57 hectares of parks and playing fields

“The new playing fields, public parks and the local centres will be easily accessible via new pathways and cycleways,” Roberts said.

“A wide range of homes would be provided for the diverse and growing community, easily accessed by new road upgrades and the Sydney Metro Northwest.”

Upgrades of Richmond Road, Garfield Road, Schofields Road and Bandon Road are planned to improve access to and from the development precinct.

Member for Riverstone Kevin Conolly says Marsden Park North will eventually become part of the new suburbs of Angus, Marsden Park and Vineyard.

“Residents will also have access to the new Sydney Metro Northwest at Tallawong Station as well as existing Schofields and Riverstone Railway Stations,” Conolly said.

The Sydney Metro Northwest at Tallawong Station is scheduled to open in 2019.

The Marsden Park North Masterplan is now open for local community feedback until October 26.

Sustainable House Day 2018

BASSENDEAN building designer Romona Sandon will be opening up her sustainable home for the first time for Sustainable House Day on September 16.

The day is part of an Australia-wide event where about 250 houses across the country are opened to the public.

Ms Sandon’s James Street house is one of three which will be displayed on a bus tour organised by Environment House in Bayswater and guided by Alternative Technology Association WA committee member Kim Wilkinson.

The bus will leave Environment House at 9am and visit each house for 45 minutes, where the features, building materials, sustainability features and technologies will be discussed.Coming from a sustainable architecture background, Ms Sandon built her “eco-home” in 2016.

Building designer Romona Sandon of Bassendean, in her sustainable home. Picture: David Baylis d486051

Her home features passive solar design principles including large north-facing windows and doors allowing in winter sunlight, insulated cavity bricks, cross-ventilation, solar-powered LED night lighting and low Volatile Organic Compounds paints and carpets.

She said her home also encouraged her family to transition to a low-waste way of living.

“Organic waste goes into our Bokashi bins and by reducing the purchase of single-use plastics and packaging, our landfill waste has significantly decreased,” she said.

“I also wanted to showcase that an ‘eco-home’ does not have to look a particular way or cost the earth.

“Most people that visit my home have no idea that it is a passive solar-designed home until they say how comfortable it is and ask where the heaters or airconditioners are – there are none.”

Her aim was to inspire people to live sustainably and show them how to lower energy bills and help the environment through good home design, practices and technology.

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Shaping Cities: The Design Imperative

The 2018 International Urban Design Conference will be held at the SMC Conference and Function Centre, Sydney, NSW over 12 – 13 November.

The conference will showcase innovations in projects and research embracing and creating transformational change in urban environments.

Joining us at the conference as a keynote speaker is Ms Caroline Stalker,Design Director Urban and Principal, ARUP Australasia (QLD) who will present on ‘Shaping Cities: The Design Imperative’.

Caroline’s Bio

Ms Caroline Stalker

Caroline is a highly skilled designer, communicator and leader of teams for complex urban design and master planning projects. Her career spans 30 years and a range of project types, including new communities, urban regeneration around transport hubs, city and town centres, universities, public spaces, public buildings, mixed use and multi-residential buildings. Throughout her career Caroline has demonstrated a sustained commitment to enhancing people’s connection to the natural world and each other through design, and an outstanding ability to take an holistic approach to the complex design problems of cities. This has been recognised over the years through numerous architecture and planning awards. Caroline is an Adjunct Professor, School of Design, QUT Creative Industries, and has served on and chaired awards juries in both architecture and urban design, and held advisory roles for government.


The vast majority of Australians live in places that are untouched by the hands of architects, urban designers, or landscape architects.  Following a childhood in Australia’s great laboratory of urban ideas, Canberra, the idea that the city is shaped by intelligent acts of design seemed the norm to me – until we moved to Brisbane in the late 70s.  Sitting tidily at the opposite end of the city design spectrum from Canberra, late 20th century Brisbane, like other Australian cities, was growing at pace, shaped by the twin forces of escalating private car ownership and use and unshaped urban expansion.   The imperative for design in these two examples represent two extremes: the ‘top down’ design-led city vs the un-designed city of laissez faire individualism.  Each instance paints a different role for design and the designer; prime author or minor player on individual sites.

These days we talk about city design as a collaborative act, a complex deliberative democracy where disciplines and stakeholders sit alongside one another. This more civilised response to urban complexity brings with it important opportunities for integration, multi-disciplinary and multi stakeholder engagement.  The role of design and designer is to provide a platform for this collaboration.  However, reflecting on 30 years of design practice, the great majority of work has also required applying clear and strong design thinking to retrofit ad hoc urban development that doesn’t work well as an urban environment.  The driving imperative here is to structure unstructured settings, provide the unifying community glue of public realm where there is none, and create a distinct whole place for people out of fragments of land so that people can occupy the resulting spaces in new ways.  It’s always collaborative, it’s always complex.  But the collaboration has always needed filtering through a powerful design framework that orchestrates the pieces and the complexity. Without strong design thinking as a platform for bringing together the collaborative effort, the ‘whole place’ puzzle remains unsolved.

As the 21st century unfolds, we have a new raft of megatrends that are shaping cities, while we are still dealing with the legacy issues of 20th century urbanism.  These include the emergence of the digital disruption in transport, retail and work practices, and changes in urban energy systems and our changing urban demographics.  These shifts all demand new thinking, new approaches, new policies to response.  Increasing complexity demands more collaboration, more integrated layers of expertise.  With these demands comes an even greater need for the organising and humanising layer of strong design in shaping cities.

The paper will present project examples from Arup’s global portfolio to illustrate design imperatives in contemporary city making.

For more information on and to join us at the 2018 International Urban Design Conference, please visit the conference website at