Plan making in Woolloongabba

The University Of Queensland

Project Description

What makes a sustainable building in neighbourhoods experiencing growth, development, and change?

The inner-city suburb of Woolloongabba, Brisbane, like many other inner suburban neighbourhoods in Australia, is experiencing fast growth and development. For residents, concerns exist around the development of large ‘eyesore’ apartments that undermine existing community character and how these large developments will further exacerbate existing urban challenges such as congestion, mobility, and preservation of urban character. For this studio, planning students were challenged to create a regeneration planning strategy around how to develop buildings that are environmentally appropriate, economically viable and socially restorative in its urban context. Placemaking, albeit not the focus of the studio, was integrated to bring a stronger social dimension to the conceptualisation of sustainable buildings and how buildings as places can foster social wellbeing and vitality in their urban environment.

Students in this studio were able to engage a quasi-real-world project, growing their skills practically as planners to support students in bridging theory and practice. With support from the project champion and experienced placemaker, John Mongard, students were encouraged to embrace placemaking and integrate the theory into their work. The design challenge for students focused on planning processes and unpacking the issues around sustainable design implementation within existing planning regulations. They had to conceive of a plan that would address the environmental, social and economic aspects of a sustainable building in a way that enhanced and revitalised the surrounding neighbourhood.

Learning Methodology

This studio is run as an intensive studio with 2 full days of contact hours throught 7 weeks. The students will be immersed in the community having an opportunity to take all lessons at the Community Hub allowing the students to experience the area in depth. The studio is open to all built environment disciplines with assessment strategies adapted to allow skill development and evaluation based on their future role as placemakers.

Students will work collaboratively in small groups to plan, design and implement strategies for community engagement. Then, their designs will reflect and respond to the community perceptions gathered during this engagement. Each group will be expected to manage their budget, safety and policies of the Newport area.

It is expected that students enrolling into this studio will be able to develop the following placemaking skills:

How does this studio match PlaceAgency Objectives?

This studio was an exercise in integrating place-based processes into an existing planning subject. This studio was able to generate a stronger social dimension and process around the design and planning of sustainable buildings through the integration of placemaking by the industry partner. This studio also provides a case study for working within the constraints of existing subjects and how to utilise placemaking to expand and reinforce the importance of place-based design in the field of planning. As a studio, it acknowledges that sometimes it’s difficult to change the constraints of a subject to embrace relevant allied theory.

Activities – Studio Outline

ActivityDescriptionKey dates for activitiesKey learning objectives
IntroductionUrban regeneration; Discuss the local neighborhood plan; Instructions on how to audit a site (prepar24 julytheory and practice
Site VisitSite Visit (Field Work): Visit the selected site. Audit the site.31 julyobservation and spatial analysis
Site visitEnvironmental Sustainability - viability (Field Work): Site visit in Newstead (Gas Works development4 septobservation and spatial analysis

Location Description

Woolloongabba, Brisbane


Studio Leaders
Sebastien DarchenSebastien Darchen
Project champion

John Mongard

- Urban Design