De-coding the designers rhetoric

Monday 24 May 2021
14:00-15:30 AEST
PIA Member $45 / Non-member $60 (inc. GST)

As an urban designer with degrees in architecture, landscape architecture and planning and holding a position on the state government design review panels in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, I have heard them all! Passive surveillance, activated street fronts, facade articulation, holding the corner, human scale, fine-grain materiality, gateways, thresholds, and everything in between.
The question is; what do all these jargon words mean for the planning profession and how can we sit across from our oh-so-funkily dressed design colleagues in a planning meeting and avoid our eyes rolling back in our heads at their ‘iconic’ building and the views they have created from the penthouses. Importantly, how can we make up our own minds about what is and isn’t appropriate for the context and avoid getting seduced by the jargon, beautiful renders and gorgeous sketches.
I propose to take you through a series of real life examples that seek to demystify the dark art of design and show that good design is as simple as putting people first and creating places that are good to be in and around. These examples include ‘how to achieve good design’ planning controls for urban waterways, built form design guidelines for town centres and illustrative design guidelines for metropolitan activity centres amongst others.
Highly visual, using graphics, diagrams and precedent images, I will give a crash course in urban design that brings us crashing back down to the human experience from the helicopter plan view and provide a bit of a laugh at some of the terminology design review panels members use to simplify the design rhetoric; did you know that unrealistic balcony planting is called ‘architectural armpit hair’ and reflective floor to ceiling glazing on street fronts the ‘bathroom mirror’?


Amanda Roberts


Urban designer Amanda Roberts says she is “inherently a big-picture person”. She loves working at the strategic level, where her deep understanding of the complexities of the built environment align with her passion for collaboration. “Working collaboratively with clients and project partners leads to better outcomes – outcomes that are balanced, rigorous and effective. It’s also much more fun,” says Amanda. With an academic grounding in architecture, landscape architecture and planning, Amanda’s multi-disciplinary expertise is enhanced by her innate curiosity about how people interact in and enjoy public spaces, an interest that has informed both her fields of study and her working career. Amanda sits on design review panels for the Victorian, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian governments and says this exposes her to some amazing city-shaping projects. Amanda says whether she’s on a panel or working with a client, it’s her role “to help ensure a project will contribute to diverse, successful and safe public environments”. “Cities play an ever-expanding role in our future wellbeing and as an urban designer it’s a privilege to be working towards making positive changes for people – and our planet.”