The 2017 National Awards for Planning Excellence, presented by the Planning Institute of Australia at a ceremony in Sydney on 3 May 2017, awarded people and projects from around Australia for outstanding achievements in planning.
Two of the award categories celebrate research and education. The Cutting Edge Research and Learning Award recognizes outstanding achievement in planning scholarship, research or teaching; and the Outstanding Student Project Award recognizes exemplary work by a student.
Cutting Edge Research and Teaching
Award: Renewing the Compact City (NSW)
Project team: City Futures Research Centre, UNSW
Jury comment: Urban renewal is occurring within every major city across the country, with some difficulties and challenges especially due to multiple landownership.
Strong population growth in our Australian cities, particularly Sydney, means the cities need to densify. This poses design, behavioural and regulatory challenges. An important regulatory change is dealing with older strata schemes that often sit on land under pressure for more intensive uses. They are also often at a point in their life-cycle when substantial investment to demolish or upgrade an ageing building and amenity is on the cards.
The City Futures Research Centre research and paper presented in NSW is highly pertinent to our growing cities. The methodology, research findings and outcomes have broad applicability in the industry. This is ground-breaking research on the economic feasibility and social impact of strata renewal that has been incorporated into the NSW Strata Schemes Development Act (2015).
Award: Mastering the Art of Planning – 100 Stories from Urban Planning Practice
Project team: Robin King-Cullin RPIA (Life Fellow)
Jury comment: The judges were suitably impressed with the body of work presented in this nomination. They felt that the content and approach was highly original and innovative, and are not aware of a similar resource in Australia. The book provides accounts and experiences from 70 or so senior practitioners, and is an invaluable resource which will help to give new planners perspective and reassurance in confronting challenges similar to those referenced in the book.
This work is particularly award worthy because it addresses early career anxieties and challenges in an accessible, thoughtful and constructive way. The book provides a sound approach to the age-old challenge of ‘putting an old head on young shoulders’ by consolidating important career advice into a single resource; and helps reinforce to new planners the importance of their role in informing and influencing good planning decisions. Additionally it is a valuable reference for ethical, interpersonal and life challenges faced early in a career.
The attitudinal rather than technical approach that Robin has taken with this resource will not only help to build professional and personal resilience, but also provides a basis for creating a better reputation for the planning profession more generally.
Commendation: Movie Towns and Sitcom Suburbs: Building Hollywood’s Ideal Communities (Vic)
Project team: Dr Stephen Rowley MPIA, RMIT University
Outstanding Student Project
Award: Richard Barry PIA (Assoc.) (NSW)
Project: Exploring the Virtual City – Immersive Public Participation Using VR Headsets
Jury comment: For decades, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets providing a gateway into immersive digital representations of our environment have typically been the dreams of video gamers and sci-fi fans. Stemming from this innovative movement, this student thesis explored a new participation technique for planners to utilise VR headsets to visualize future development during the public participation process by being immersed in a one-to-one scale digital model of their city or neighbourhood. The main research question answered was: “To what extent can VR headsets be used to better visualise proposed developments?”
The judges all agreed that this thesis took on a very cutting-edge topic, one that is becoming increasingly popular to engage people in complex development projects. It was innovative and could easily be transferred and learnt by anyone in the development industry who has access to the technology. The judges were impressed by the practical research methods carried out which is now being used in development projects across the country.
Commendation: Benjamin Wollinski PIA (Assoc.)
Project: Mismatch of Housing: Adequacy of Housing for the Population (SA)
Commendation: Dr Claire Boulange
Project: The Walkability Planning Support System: An Evidence-Based Tool to Design Healthy Communities (Vic)