Design is the answer – what is the question?

National Urban Design Forum Thursday 24 September 2015

The Australia Award for Urban Design (AAUD) is Australia’s premier award for excellence and innovation in all elements of urban design. This year, on Thursday 24 September complementing the presentation of the 2015 Awards in Melbourne, PIA is hosting a full day workshop focused on the challenges facing Australian cities and towns and the critical roles that urban design must play to make them successful.

The challenge of major change

There are major changes our cities and towns need to accommodate: a rapidly growing population; demographic and social evolution; accessibility and life-style choices; technology, energy and environmental change; and uncertain economic circumstances. Urban design must be up to the challenge of change. It will require the integrated endeavours of planners, architects, social planners, landscape architects, engineers, property developers and financiers, and government agencies. This forum will be provocative, stimulating and useful for anyone involved in shaping our cities and towns for the decades ahead.

Across Australia, and around the world, exciting and creative innovations in urban design are inspiring - and they provide much to learn from. These innovations are making a very positive and practical difference to the places where people live, work and play. The good ideas are just the beginning. It is critical to understand how the ideas can be nurtured and transformed into changes on the ground. A diversity of highly credentialed presenters have been chosen and briefed to stretch their experience and knowledge into the urban design realm, and to challenge all those attending to stretch their thinking into better informed and practical solutions. Google the presenters names to find out who they are, what they do, and the breadth of their interests.

Interactive and practical learning

The aim of this day is a practical learning environment, bringing together both those who are doing it and those who need to do it. So don’t expect to just sit and listen. Everyone will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience, and interact with the presenters and other attendees. It is the future of urban Australia we are talking about.

From the moment you arrive you will be encouraged to engage and network with other attendees and this engagement will set the tone for conversations that build on what the presenters have to tell us.

Overarching themes for the day include: sustainability; places for people; the value of good urban design (and the cost of not doing it); mixed use urban centres (which are much more than just shopping); and the economic efficiency of well-designed infrastructure. But most people attending will find many detailed issues and solutions that can assist them in their everyday work.

The speakers

The morning session provides stimulating and thought-provoking speakers to set the context for urban design challenges.

Andrew Holden (Editor in Chief, The Age) will review the historic influence of media on our cities and towns, and expose the future role of both new and old media beyond the headlines

Annette Gillespie (CEO Safe Steps, Family Violence Response Service) will explain the practical importance of safe and healthy environments and how urban design can make them better, or worse

James Brearley (Director Brearley Architects and Urbanists, Melbourne and Shanghai) will explore different cultural approaches to the rapid growth of cities, and look at how governance affects what we do and how we do it

Leanne Hodyl (Manager Urban Strategy City of Melbourne and Churchill Fellow 2014) will address the intensification of urban areas, and reflect on the strategies which lead to liveable big cities.

The afternoon presenters set the framework for interactive discussion around areas of practical interest with practical examples:

Michelle Howard (Director Collaborations) will engage everyone in this session, and give examples that illustrate the importance of healthy and effective community engagement in assessing what people and communities want and need

Caroline Stalker (Director Architectus) will explore design thinking, and use examples where critical regionalism, place and identity are important, to tease out common issues and solution and demonstrate that one size does not fit all.

Rob McGauran (Director MGS Architects) will draw on a plethora of built and conceptual projects to demonstrate the importance of creative and innovative design approaches to achieve affordable housing and living

Donnell Davis (Director Envirobusiness) will provide both Australian and international perspectives to illustrate the challenges of climate change and design resilience, governance, and respectful design for a multicultural society.

To top off the forum, Stephen Mayne (Founder of, shareholder activist and Melbourne City Councillor will provide coal-face insights about finance, governance, and communication that makes urban design happen.

The guest speaker at the AAUD presentations will be Timothy Horton (Registrar NSW Architects Registration Board) drawing on his experience in a number of key roles across Australia.

The Venue

Telstra Conference Centre
Level 1, 242 Exhibition Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Program summary

9.30am Registration and first interactive tasks

10.00am Morning presentations

12.35pm Lunch, networking and interactive tasks

1.30pm Afternoon presentations and interactive discussions

5.15pm Drinks and networking

6.00pm 2015 AAUD presentations

7.45pm Wrap up

Download the Program Summary & the speaker abstracts for this outstanding program here

Join in this important national event, the National Urban Design Forum, Thursday 24 September 2015

If you would like to attend the Awards presentations only, please register here

Download event flyer here

Award Hosts


Thursday 24 September 2015


2015 Urban Design Forum: 9.30am - 5.30pm 2015 AAUD Presentation: 6pm – 8pm

PD Points

7 points


Telstra Conference Centre
Level 1/242 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Registrations Close

23rd Sep 15 11:59 PM


$350 PIA Members | $140 PIA Student Member | $450 Non-Members


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