I am pleased to report that I have just been selected for the UDIA Women in Property Committee for the 2018-2020 season.

Chosen from more than 200 applicants for committees across the state, I will join 14 fellow committee members.

Established by UDIA in 1999, the group runs events and produces content that promotes greater engagement, representation and exposure for women in our industry. If you would like to find out what we have planned for the 2018-20 season, visit the UDIA site.

Projects of pride to inspire us all

And with the topic of diversity and equality taking centre stage, women must continue to be represented within our industry and encouraged to take the lead by working on projects of pride.

My proudest project that holds a special place in my heart is Laurimar, a community of about 2,000 homes in the north of Melbourne. I was involved in the design of this project from initial concept, while working at Lendlease, and SMEC was also involved in the project development through its Urban Engineering and Survey partners and teams.

In simple terms… Laurimar was the project where I learned to be a good urban designer.

The diverse team played an important role in my own personal development.  They were great and I had amazing mentors plus solid learning opportunities.

Last month I actually went to the site for a visit which gave me a palpable sense of achievement.  The project is now complete and it is blooming.  Laurimar has become exactly what we envisioned it to be – a thriving and inspiring community.

If you are ever in Doreen go check it out!

 Urban Design is a very rewarding profession. We are the people behind the curtains, designing and creating the places where people’s lives and dreams will unfold.

Big picture thinking is the key to great Urban Design

When I think about our industry across the country, I start to appreciate that Australia has been experiencing unprecedented population growth.

This ultimately translates into the requirement for the delivery of well-planned innovative neighbourhoods and city areas to accommodate new residents.

For me, Urban Design involves the planning and creation of all spaces that belong to the public.  The spaces that shape a neighbourhood, a town or a city.

Urban Design is about making the streets and public spaces attractive, sustainable, functional, communal and inspiring.

The fact that a resident will be able to drive home along a tree-lined street, with an incredible park located a few blocks from their house, and that they will think “I am home, I love where I live”, is the true measure of the success of great urban design in our communities.

But a good urban designer will also be able to see the bigger picture whilst having strong attention to detail. We must be independent thinkers, anticipating problems and generating creative solutions.  All the while coordinating different, and sometimes contradictory, requirements from each discipline, into a design that addresses everyone’s input.

A great piece of urban design should be at the same time flexible and robust.  It must withstand changes in the market, in the development vision and in the land uses.

It should be future-proofed so that it delivers to its brief right now, whilst being able to transform over time into other unplanned and unimagined uses.

The SMEC Spirit brings out our best

We have a wonderful group here at SMEC. Every day I see people doing things to help others in their work. There is true collaboration and professionalism and I am very happy to be part of this growing team.

Our urban design team starts each project by reviewing all the background information that relates to and that will impact the site. It includes all the site features, constraints, planning regulations, required outcomes, target market, project proposition, required yield and land use outcomes, etc.

Then, we will go on a site visit to ensure that we have interpreted all the data correctly and to get a true “feel” of the site.

After that, it is hands-on design.

We may go through some interactive workshops with the client and other designers, or we may proceed with this individually. There is a lot of sketching on a lot of torn pieces of yellow trace, as the vision and ideas for the site take shape. The final vision will be of a concise design response that captures all the constraints and opportunities identified and delivers on the required outcomes.

Once we are happy with our approach, we transfer it to the computer using CAD software and present a preliminary design to the client. After a few rounds of refinement, the master plans created are ready to be included into permit-plan-applications through the relevant Council. Once approved, these designs will be translated into precise drawings by the survey teams, and the engineering of the construction methods will be developed.

Drawing the curtain on Urban Designers

Urban Design is a very rewarding profession. We are the people behind the curtains, designing and creating the places where people’s lives and dreams will unfold.

Urban designers are the ones thinking about people’s spatial wellbeing… from the moment they step out of their front door to the moment they return.

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Author Carolina Isfer

Carolina Isfer leads SMEC’s Urban Design team in Melbourne

More posts by Carolina Isfer

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