Design Smart: Achieving High Quality Design Through Collaborative Processes

Mr Omar Barragan, Manager of Urban Design at Brisbane City Council will be attending this year’s International Urban Design Conference, discussing “Design smart: achieving high quality design through collaborative processes”.

As Brisbane grows as a New World City, the aim is to achieve a responsive subtropical design that speaks on behalf of the city – design that demonstrates the best elements of living in Subtropical Brisbane.

Omar Barragan

Brisbane needs exemplary projects that respond to an embrace our subtropical climate and showcase our city’s urban character and outdoor lifestyle. To achieve this strategic goal Brisbane City Council has created a new initiative that seeks ways to partner with the development industry and key stakeholders.

The Design SMART service is intended to be a pre-lodgement service from the initiation/inception phase of significant development projects. Council officers attend multiple pre-lodgment meetings and work with applicants to review the design opportunities and constraints of a site and to discuss how these might inform the development of the concept design for the site.

There are two key of differences in this process that set apart Brisbane’s approach to other cities. The first is the high level policy guidance provided by the recently adopted document, ‘ New World City Design Guide: Buildings that Breathe’. This forward thinking guide illustrates how residential and commercial buildings in the city centre, mixed use inner city, transport corridors and principal regional activity centres should be designed to respond to our subtropical climate and improve sustainability. This gives clarity to the industry on the expected three dimensional built outcomes for the city.

The second is the direct involvement from the initial stages of the city’s Independent Design Advisory Panel (IDAP). This panel provides Council with independent advice on design, quality, sustainability and appropriateness of strategies and projects of importance to Brisbane’s future growth. In this way, Design SMART facilitates direct feedback from industry-based professionals, real world advice, to developers from early stages of the design process.

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.


Malcolm Middleton: Disrupting the Australian Dream

Malcolm Middleton, Queensland Government Architect, Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Queensland is one of the Keynote Speakers at this year’s 2017 International Urban Design Conference. 

This year, Malcolm will be presenting “Disrupting the Australian dream”.

Malcolm Middleton

Malcolm will be discussing the Density and Diversity Done Well competition his office has recently completed and had successful engagement with design practices from across Australia. He’ll also examine some the issues and challenges that were identified through the competition process.

The paper will outline how the competition was run, what will happen now the winners have been announced and discuss parallel engagement tools developed as part of the Testing within Government (TwiG) initiative. Importantly, the winning entries proposed some critical departures from traditional density approaches which challenge bureaucratic and social norms in residential work.

The competition has also enabled new dialogue to occur within government and local government structures with targeted sites for real explorations to deliver actual urban solutions now being actively investigated.

About the Conference

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. 

This Conference is an opportunity for design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban futures.

Find out more here.

Place Planning Quest: Collaboration in the Process of Creating a Vision and Delivering an Outcome

Register now for the 10th International Urban Design Conference this November!

Ms Evy Anwar, Urban Designer at Northern Beaches Council will be attending this year’s event, discussing “How to communicate the ‘trade-off’ to create better places”.

Evy Anwar

Highlight of presentation:
• Place planning process focuses on the creation and evolution of places rather than a traditional land use-based structure planning.
• Place planning process led by a division called ‘Place Management’ which oversees the mechanism and synergy of places.
• A series of programs were created as part of community engagement and education about creative placemaking, how to address future challenges, and being involved in the creation of a liveable community.


• To promote a more inclusive way of planning future places
• To appeal to a wider section of audiences in the new trends of creating and building towards liveable communities
• To capitalise new infrastructure investments such as better public transport (the B-Line)
• To create more people friendly places rather than a ‘car-oriented’ destination


• Extensive community engagement programs: discussions involving local and international experts, workshops, walking tours, placemaking events, etc
• Evidence-based analysis using urban infometric and traffic modelling to focus on creating better people spaces


• Place plan scenario includes behavioural and gradual lifestyle changes as well as the exploration of new ways in conducting day to day activities
• A variety of temporary intervention was incorporated as part of the place planning process to disrupt the usual approach in interpreting and using public spaces


• Deeper understanding about what is required for developing better places. Notwithstanding some people may still have difficulties to accept the ‘trade-off’ required to improve the quality of spaces.

Conclusion of the work:
• Gradual changes and temporary interventions can be more palatable for communities which uphold a certain lifestyle. Stronger support and direction from the government is crucial on long term commitments and solving the bigger planning issues such as addressing housing affordability.
• The place planning process needs to fulfill the requirements of our planning system therefore Place Plan must be adaptable as a ‘master plan’.


The 2017 International Urban Design Conference is an opportunity for design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban futures.

Find out more here.