Shaping Australian Cities: Driving Global Competitiveness Through Strategy and Design

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. 

Australian cities
James Tuma

James Tuma, National Director – Design, will be joining us this year to discuss “Shaping Australian cities: Driving global competitiveness through strategy and design”.

What makes a city globally competitive? Where do Australian cities sit in the global context? How should we shape them?

Cities are human kind’s greatest achievement and challenge. Predictions indicate that by 2050 well over half of the world’s 5 billion people will live in cities. Investment in cities and real estate worldwide is estimated to more than double from 2012 to 2020. Cumulatively, cities globally represent the greatest opportunity to enact and effect change at a planetary scale.

This body of work considers the emerging language and strengths of cities and identifies ten strategic opportunities for Australian cities to address when it comes to their design and place in the world. This guidance is by no means exhaustive or definitive, however it aims to provide the foundation stones of creating a compelling national conversation about our shared urban future.

 This 10th 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.

Secure your spot for this year here.

Robina Crook: Universal Design Thinking

“My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair,  but because the broader environment isn’t accessible.” –Stella Young – Australian Journalist, Disability Rights Activist and Comedian

As we collectively look for ways to create a more sustainable future, it is vital we include our built environment. Without considering all, we risk condemning the most vulnerable of our community to an unsustainable, inaccessible world. By embracing Universal Design Thinking our urban places will accommodate everyone; you, me, young, old and those with disabilities.

universal design thinking
Robina Crook

Curtin University has made a commitment to a sustainable future for all by establishing a vision to be the most accessible campus by 2030. The main Curtin University campus is located in the suburb of Bentley, Western Australia. Curtin is a large low rise, low density university, predominantly built in the 1970s with a big vision.

Due to the good fortune of location, Curtin is perfectly placed to provide educational services to the South East Asian student market. Over the next 10-20 years, Curtin is embarking on an extensive programme of development that will fundamentally change the nature of the Bentley campus. The campus will function as alternative city centre with a diversity of functions and services, not just a location of tertiary education. The adoption of the Universal Design Thinking approach is one of the key strategies that designers, architects and planners are required to address when tendering for work at Curtin.

There are 50,228 enrolled students at the Bentley campus, supported by some 4,041 staff made up of academics, administrators and contractors. Over 16,376 of these students are international. With a large student body, Curtin hosts numerous events, festivals and graduations on campus, attracting thousands of visitors to the campus each year. Curtin is a fabulously rich and diverse community.

In Australia, 18.5 % of the population report as having a disability, this means that some 11,800 people will want to access the campus that could also have a disability. These figures do not even address the very porous state of temporarily able-bodied. Live long enough and you will almost certainly enter a state of disability at some point in your life.

As a public institution, Curtin University is required to meet the Disability Access and Inclusion Legislation requirements however Curtin has established a vision that is more welcoming and inclusive than the legislation. Curtin University has adopted a smart approach. The Curtin Universal Design Guideline – Built Form project provided for a high level of participation engaging with 65 stakeholders underpinning a strong sense of ownership. The process deliberately aligned with the vision, established agreed principles and created design criteria. The guideline has also been embedded in a governance process that integrates Universal Design Thinking into all stages of place making.

By Ms Robina Crook, Associate HASSELL

Biophilia in Urban Design – Patterns and Principles for Smart Australian Cities

Over thirty years ago ecologist EO Wilson proposed the Biophilia hypothesis – a powerful idea which asserts that humans have an instinctive bond with nature and that it is an essential part of our well-being.

The idea was tested over the years and in 2008 the concept of Biophilic Design was formalised and popularised by social ecologist, the late Stephen Kellert, and cohorts. It has been further developed by Peter Newman and others, particularly Tim Beatley who has written extensively about Biophilic Cities. Biophilic design has been codified for commercial acceptance, notably with the 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design, informed by empirical evidence and interdisciplinary analysis of more than 500 peer-reviewed publications and promoted by Terrapin Bright Green LLC.

There is increasing application and acceptance of the hypothesis in Australian planning and design practice, relating human biological science and nature to the design of the built environment, and biophilic patterns and principles can be identified in numerous examples of Australian urban design. However, there is little evidence of the concept being applied to the design, development and operation of smart cities.

Surprisingly, biophilic effects can be achieved with no physical or tangible link to ‘nature’ at all. Indirect experiences of ‘nature’ can generate measurable biophilic psycho-physiological responses, for instance in hospital rooms when people are exposed to images of nature such as artificial sky.

These ‘illusory’ effects may be valuable for environments that cannot readily support real biological systems – such as rooms buried deep inside large buildings. There are parts of our cities where nature struggles to survive; in such places, biophilia may be evoked by technological, rather than biological means. In research with Deakin University my colleagues and I established that places like the new underground railway system in Melbourne justified the addition of another biophilic design ‘pattern’ to describe these ‘virtual’ biophilic effects.

Biophilia enhances well-being. Part of the agenda of smart cities is to do just that. Our research suggests that cities should embed a biophilia ethos in their urban design to ameliorate the negative results of overly reductionist approaches to efficient urbanism.

Paul Downton, Architect & Researcher

Article based on a paper presented at the 9th International Urban Design Conference in Canberra by Dr Paul Downton and colleagues from Deakin University, Prof David Jones and Josh Zeunert.

Introducing Ms Sarah Baker

Ms Sarah Baker will be joining us at the upcoming 9th International Urban Design Conference at the Hyatt Canberra from Monday 7 November to Wednesday 9 November 2016.

Ms Baker will be presenting on the topic of Public and private benefits of competitive design processes in central Sydney.

Good design delivers a variety of public benefits. The so-called ‘design dividend’ links these benefits to positive financial uplift for property interests resulting from superior design. What happens when competitive design processes enter the picture? This presentation examines City of Sydney Council’s competitive design policy. We report a consensus in perception – as well as supporting evidence – that Sydney’s competitive design policy has generated a raft of both public and private benefits. Securing design excellence through competition emerges as an innovative regulatory approach to help ‘bridge the gap’ between public and private interests in city design and development.

Sarah Baker received her Master of Planning from UNSW Built Environment in 2014, and subsequently joined the faculty as a Research Assistant. Balancing practice and research, she also works in local government in Sydney.

Join presenters from 7 countries including Australia, China, Denmark, Hong Kong, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States this November. For more information and to secure your spot at the 9th International Urban Design Conference please visit the Conference Website.

The Wellington Story – Serendipity

Mr Gerald Blunt will be joining us at the upcoming 9th International Urban Design Conference at the Hyatt Canberra from Monday 7 November to Wednesday 9 November 2016.

Gerald Blunt works at Wellington City Council as Design Manager, City Shaper – which delivers on large city projects. Prior to this he worked at Auckland Council for 4 ½ years in the Auckland Design Office. Prior to this he was employed by Wellington City Council as an urban designer for 10 years; most recently as Chief Urban Designer. He worked extensively on the Wellington waterfront project drafting the influential Wellington Waterfront Framework. Gerald has completed a Masters degree in urban design at Oxford Brookes University, U.K. and has been awarded a fellowship of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

Gerald Blunt
Gerald Blunt

Mr Blunt will be presenting at the conference, an abstract of his discussion is below:
The idea of serendipity is explored as a potential management tool for cities.  Serendipity is referenced in a series of management journals where it is proposed that it should be considered as part of business processes. In Make Serendipity Work for You in the Harvard Business Review, the following ideas are explored:

1. Serendipity is a close relative of creativity
2. Serendipity benefits not just from scarcity (forcing people to be creative) but from a degree of sloppiness, tenacity, and dissent.
3. History matters
4. Socializing matters
5. Diversity matters
6. Tinkering matters

The idea of serendipity has not commonly been considered in urban design and planning literature. The presentation will look at issues of cities and their design and planning, and explore why serendipity might work in the city context. This will be done through understanding Wellington’s sense of place, including how our whakapapa has been translated into a contemporary building.

Further lessons from three case studies; the waterfront, the Capital City initiative and the civic centre project will be reviewed and analysed to suggest how the idea of serendipity can improve innovation in City Shaping.

For more information on the 9th International Urban Design Conference please visit the Conference Website.