It was a simple idea. The QUT was hosting a significant urban design conference, the International Seminar of Urban Form (ISUF), where 80 or more presenters from 23 countries were presenting work on urban morphology research. Conference chair Paul Sanders, QUT School of Design Head, is a supporter of strengthening the relationship between practice and theory. The newly appointed fractional Professors of Design, of which I am one, have a role to foster links between QUT and industry. The Urban Design Alliance, Queensland (UDAL) ran a very successful forum in 2012.
So why not work with QUDAL and invite its members, the respected local practitioners to present and discuss their work, as a lead in to the ISUF conference. This would be one of the first times that the broad range of urban design work in Queensland would be presented on a single day. Such a body of work could act as a barometer about urban design concerns, expectations of clients and communities, the quality of the work, methods of practice and how practice may be informed by research. Hence the idea of the QUDAL/ISUF City Making Super Forum was born.
More than two dozen local speakers addressed a number of simple themes on the inner city, transport and TODs, regional cities and special uses urbanism such as the Brisbane Airport master plan, Commonwealth Games Village and the Sunshine Coast University Hospital. Brisbane boy Malcolm Snow, former QUDAL President, now based in Victoria flew in and very ably acted as MC for the day. In the Super Forum plenary, State Government Architect Malcolm Middleton provided his incisive reflections on the current state of urban design in Queensland.
The Super Forum concluded with the opening session of the ISUF conference with presentations on theory and practice in urban design from three practitioners and three academics. It was a remarkable event enriched by the international and interstate participants that demonstrated the commitment in Queensland to quality urban design and the considerable skills by which it is undertaken by local practitioners. The past ten years has seen a significant quantum of excellent work. Let’s hope the next ten years can match these achievements.
Peter Richards is an urban designer and architect, a founding director of Deicke Richards and recently appointed Professor of Design in the School of Design at QUT. Peter initiated and was the creative director for the QUDAL City Making Super Forum, and can be contacted at [email protected]