Save Our Minds, Bodies and Souls, Not Just Our Town

Ms Robina Crook, Associate at HASSELL joins us at this year’s International Urban Design Conference to discuss  “Save our minds, bodies and souls, not just our town”.

A tale of how a small rural community taught their urban cousin a thing or two about “Building an Age Friendly Community”

When Ian McCabe, CEO of the Shire of Wyalkatchem, requested the Western Australian Planning Institute of Australia assist them to address the complex challenge of an ageing community, we jumped at the opportunity to help (1).

When you are the CEO of a local rural shire you are not just advocating for the citizens of a community, often you will have a personal connection. The Shire of Wyalkatchem is 194km north east of Perth. It is a community of only 516 souls in 314 private dwellings; with a handful of those dwellings forming the town centre. More than 46% of the “Wylie-ites” are aged 55 years or more, with a median age of 53 years. Ageing infrastructure combined with catering for an aged population is a major issue for the Shire.

Robina Crook

With issues associated with an ageing population becoming a daily reality the Shire of Wyalkatchem took the lead. They invited local government community development officers and chief executives from around the Western Australian Wheatbelt to address a common issue “Building for an Age Friendly Community”

The people of Wyalkatchem are predominately farmers and a few town’s folk, with no particular interest in urban design but a passion for community. They are however a very pro-active community. When the only butcher closed in town, the community came together (2). In drought stricken times, the farmers still managed to diversify and learn new skills becoming master chefs in all things meat. It was this determination to keep their community alive that has driven the decision to “Build for an Age Friendly Community”.

In a workshop environment, local government community development officers and chief executives embraced urban design philosophies to identify age friendly strategies for this passionate, be it small country town:

  • Guidelines for the Development of Dementia Friendly Communities (3)
  • Healthy Active by Design (4)
  • Healthy Built Food Environments (5)
  • Curtin University Universal Design Guidelines (6)

    This is the tale of David and Goliath, unperturbed by the massive challenge ahead a small town has started the journey to create the type of community they want to grow old in.

The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017. 

Secure your seat and register today!


Connected Communities: Accessing High Speed Wifi, or Knowing Your Neighbours?

Ms Jessica Christiansen-Franks, Co-founder and CEO of Neighbourlytics will be at this year’s International Urban Design Conference this November, presenting “Connected communities: accessing high speed wifi, or knowing your neighbours?” 

Jessica Christiansen-Franks

We can’t deny that technology is having a transformative impact on cities. ‘Smart cities’ and ‘innovation districts’ are perhaps the new ‘sustainable’. But with much talk about autonomous vehicles and drones, is technology actually helping us to create better places?

One in three Australians don’t know their neighbours, and loneliness is now recognised as a leading cause of death ahead of heart disease, and also a major contributor to domestic violence. Our cities are in crisis, and we need to change our approach.

Urban designers have long heralded the value of the public realm in creating stronger communities. But with so many challenges facing Australian cities, how can we use technology to turbo-charge the design process? While community engagement can be an excellent tool, it can be time consuming, cost prohibitive, and distorted by the NIMBY effect.

But 71% of Australians are on Facebook, and as a nation we search Google 150 million times a month, and send 4 million snapchats every day. Neighbourlytics is a social analytics platform created to help city-makers tap into this data to understand the unique local identity of places.

We will share insights from some of our recent work with property developers and local government to get to the heart of what makes people feel connected to place, and how better data can lead to stronger, more relevant design outcomes.

This year the International Urban Design Conference offers optional tours available on Wednesday 15 November. These will include visiting two of the precincts that have been designed and built for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast in April 2018.

Find out more here.


Remembering the Brisbane Tramways

Everything old is new again

The 8th International Urban Design Conference will be held at the Sofitel Brisbane from Monday 16 November to Wednesday 18 November 2015. Wednesday 18 being optional walking tours.

This years’ theme titled Empowering Change: Transformative Innovations and Projects will focus on inspirational changes in urban environments – see more at:

The voice of youth; responsibility, innovation and participation in urban design

The complexities of contemporary urban challenges highlight the importance of the interface of culture & ecology. 21st century systems infrastructure (which support the maintenance of urban environments) have allowed human beings to [collectively] become a geological agent (Chakrabarty 2008) threatened with a shared catastrophe.

In this context, our most pressing challenges require behaviour change at the collective, systems level. This includes the process and approach to designing physical urban fabric, as well as the social infrastructure, which underpins cultural life, social amenities, and systems for citizen engagement and participation. Evidence demonstrates that giving residents the opportunity to take part in collective activities that influence the areas in which they live ‐ contribute to the wellbeing of residents and communities.

Such strategies operate consistently alongside those, which seek to promote and support resilience in urban communities, grow social capital (Putnam) and simultaneously promote opportunities for engaging citizens in decision-making (Grattan Institute: ‘Cities, Who Decides’ 2010). In response to these issues, contemporary cultures of urban decision making and emerging recognition of the impact that more participatory forms of governance have upon the design of a socially inclusive urban fabric.

The extent to which children & young people are engaged in the decisions which affect their lives and determine their futures is important. Contextualised by International examples of design led engagement, reflected in particular upon recent experiences of the author as Engagement Leader for 5000+, (a National pilot project creating an Integrated Design Strategy for Adelaide Australia) and the opportunities and benefits which emerged through engaging children and young people in discussion about our urban future.

Dr Angelique Edmonds is a Lecturer at the University of South Australia, where she teaches in both Architecture & Sustainable Design programs and supervises Masters & PhD research. She spoke on this topic at last year’s International Urban Design Conference. Dr Edmonds is a former member of the National Sustainability Committee of the Australian Institute of Architects, Chapter Councillor in South Australia and a current Design Review chair and panellist with ODASA (the Office for Design and Architecture, South Australia).

The 6th International Urban Design Conference will be held at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park from Monday the 9th to Wednesday 11th of September 2013.  Keynote speakers include Mrs Lucy Hughes Turnbull AO, Businesswoman and Company Director, Turnbull & Partners Limited, Mr Henry Ergas, Senior Economic Adviser, Deloitte Australia & Professor of Infrastructure Economics, Mr Gordon Price – Director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, CANADA and many, many more.  Registration is open click here to attend the 2013 event.